How Walgreens shifted its focus from pharmacies to physicians

Walgreens CEO Rosalind Brewer had to convince her board of her plans to shift the company's focus from retail pharmacies to medical clinics, even taking the directors on a tour of a VillageMD practice, The Wall Street Journal reported Feb 19.

Now, about a year later, Walgreens subsidiary VillageMD has bought Summit Health, a primary and urgent care company, for $8.9 billion, and the pharmacy giant has acquired home-healthcare coordinator CareCentrix and Shields Health Solutions, which provides specialty pharmacy services to hospitals. Ms. Brewer also started the Walgreens Health division.

After becoming chief executive, "I went deeply into a strategic analysis of what could be next," she told the newspaper. "It was clear to me that, from a strategic standpoint, traditional retail plus the pharmacy business is a very mature business, and at some point we're going to have to have another way to grow revenue."

She told the Journal the drugstore business suffers from persistently slow growth and a shortage of workers.

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