Hy-Vee buying Omaha-based Amber Pharmacy - Omaha.com
Published Monday, February 17, 2014 at 4:49 pm / Updated at 6:37 pm
Hy-Vee buying Omaha-based Amber Pharmacy

Hy-Vee is expanding its specialty pharmacy business with the purchase of family-owned Amber Pharmacy of Omaha, the grocery chain announced Monday.

Amber Pharmacy Chief Executive Officer William Kaplan Sr. and family members founded the business in 1998, naming it for the family’s golden retriever.

Specialty pharmacy, the fastest-growing branch of pharmacy, treats patients with chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and autoimmune disorders by offering specialty pharmaceuticals as well as support services such as insurance verification, benefits coordination, clinical support and counseling.

“Amber Pharmacy’s talented team, innovative practices and commitment to customer service will allow us to respond to that growth while meeting and exceeding our customer needs,” said Randy Edeker, chairman, CEO and president of West Des Moines-based Hy-Vee.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. It is pending regulatory approval and is expected to close within 30 days, according to Hy-Vee.

National pharmacy providers including Walgreens, CVS Caremark, Costco and Kroger have all established specialty businesses as growth in that market outpaces growth for retail pharmaceuticals, according to a recent Drug Store News report.

Hy-Vee and Amber Pharmacy in 2010 created a joint venture, Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions, to provide specialty pharmacy solutions to customers in the eight states where Hy-Vee has pharmacies, as well as to Hy-Vee employees.

Under the acquisition announced Monday, that venture will continue to operate, and Amber Pharmacy will maintain its own name, operations, locations and employees, the firms said. Former Walgreens executive Michael Agostino is Amber’s president, and Amber has locations in Omaha, Chicago, Dallas and Philadelphia, allowing it to work with major health care providers in those cities.

Company revenue grew to $155 million by 2012, and today the firm has 130 employees, most of them based in Omaha. In 2013, Amber completed an expansion of its corporate headquarters near Wehrspann Lake at 10004 S. 152nd St., more than doubling its space to 68,000 square feet.

Hy-Vee’s chief health officer, Andy McCann, called the acquisition a natural progression in the firms’ relationship and in the growth of Hy-Vee’s health care services.

He said health and wellness is one of the supermarket chain’s three strategic growth platforms, along with culinary expertise and customer service. Hy-Vee is expanding several of its existing pharmacies and is looking to build new pharmacies in markets where it has none. It is also partnering with local health care providers to establish in-store health clinics.

“We sell food,” McCann said. “Helping our employees and our customers with healthy choices, healthy lifestyles — we think it’s part of our responsibility.”

Contact the writer: Barbara Soderlin

barbara.soderlin@owh.com    |   402-444-1336

Barbara Soderlin covers food safety, ConAgra, technology and employment/unemployment issues.

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