Walgreens plans to evolve health, wellness efforts

Walgreens (NYSE: WAG) (NASDAQ: WAG) isn't content to be the largest drugstore chain in the U.S. According to comments made at yesterday's annual shareholders meeting, it plans to expand its empire beyond selling drugs by leveraging its 7600-plus store network.

"Walgreens intends to benefit from the growing convergence of healthcare and retail services," Chairman Alan G. MacNally said in a statement. As consumers increasingly become shoppers of healthcare and become more responsible for their own health and wellness decisions, Walgreens plans to "evolve" their business from the traditional retail drugstore model to being "America's No. 1 choice for health and daily living needs by offering comprehensive pharmacy, health and wellness solutions to patients and healthcare payers."

That should be easy for the drugstore giant, which sold 20 percent of all U.S. retail prescriptions, or a record 778 million, in 2010, because of its reach. About 64 percent of people in the U.S. live within three miles of a Walgreens. One market Walgreens already is eyeing hungrily is the 32 million more Americans who will gain access to insurance in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act.

Besides growing its presence in the immunization and vaccination market, Walgreens also is looking at expanding health and wellness programs.

Just last week, Take Care Health Systems, a worksite clinic operation owned by Walgreens, opened a full-service on-site medical center at Intel's campus in Hillsboro, Ore., according to Drugstore News.

To learn more:
- read the Walgreens press release
- here's the Drugstore News story