Walgreens Boots Alliance said Thursday that staff shortages in pharmacy have created challenges for prescription growth.
|WBA||WALGREENS BOOTS ALLIANCE INC.||33.65||+1.71||+5.35%|
|CVS||CVS HEALTH COMPANY||90.09||+2.25||+2.56%|
|RAD||RITE AID CORP.||4.17||-0.28||-6.29%|
CEO Rosalind Brewer, speaking during Walgreens’ fourth-quarter earnings call, said the company has seen a “tightening in the labor market” for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, causing staff shortages in some of its markets.
The shortages “create headwinds for prescription growth,” she said.
Walgreens CFO James Kehoe also noted the problem, saying, “Scripts continue to be tested by temporary reductions in store hours due to staff shortages.”
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“Scripts rose 1.4% in fiscal year 2022, slower than expected,” Brewer noted during the call.
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“We are targeting our investments to bring approximately 3,000 stores back to normal business hours, which I expect will drive script volume recovery as we move through fiscal year 2023,” she added. “We are seeing positive workforce trends with 11 consecutive weeks of net pharmacist growth.”
The company has also opened eight “automated micro-fulfillment centers” that support about 1,800 Walgreens stores and use robotics to perform a number of pharmacy-related tasks, the CEO said during the earnings call.
“Our pace is a little slower than expected, partly due to construction delays, but I’m happy with the performance of the centers we do have in use,” she said.
In August, the Wall Street Journal reported that the company was offering signing bonuses of up to $75,000 to pharmacists in select U.S. markets to address staff shortages. To receive the bonus, newly hired pharmacists reportedly must remain with Walgreens for at least 12 months.
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For the fourth quarter, Walgreens posted revenue of $32.4 billion, down slightly from $34.26 billion in the same period last year. It posted a net loss of $415 million.
US retail pharmacy comparable prescriptions were down 3.5%, and comparable prescriptions, excluding vaccines, were down 0.1% in the fourth quarter compared to the same quarter last year. The total number of prescriptions filled in the quarter, including vaccinations and adjusted to 30-day equivalents, was 298.7 million, down 4.4%, the company said in its results release.
Total revenue in fiscal 2022 increased slightly from 2021, from $132.5 billion to $132.7 billion.
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