How Walgreens, CVS see the future of pharmacy

As the traditional pharmacy industry gets increasingly difficult to navigate, two of the largest retail pharmacy chains in the U.S. are trying new and starkly different approaches to remain afloat. 

CVS has largely bet on healthcare as the way forward, opening HealthHubs focused on managing chronic conditions, acquiring health insurer Aetna and ending cigarette sales.

"What we're witnessing is the evolution of the drugstore from what it's been to what it needs to be to meet the needs of consumers," CVS CEO Larry Merlo told Business Insider. "It's time for another evolution. We see us leading that evolution with what we're doing, with our strategy and the drugstore becoming more of a health destination."

Walgreens, on the other hand, has shied away from healthcare in the last year. The company recently announced plans to shutter the in-store health clinics that it operates. Instead, the company has been striking up partnerships with companies like Kroger, Jenny Craig weight loss services and a subscription beauty company, Birchbox. 

Walgreens also is considering a move to become a private company, which may relieve some of the quarterly pressure it faces as a public company.

Executing either strategy will prove challenging for the retail pharmacy chains, according to Business Insider.

The CVS dive into HealthHubs is risky because operating clinics is costly, Business Insider reports.  Other retailers moving into clinic services have failed. Walmart, which is renewing its push into healthcare, never completed its initial plan to open 2,000 clinics nationwide because of the cost. 

And while Walgreens' proposed strategy to go private may relieve some pressure, the company would still need to execute a winning strategy no matter who owns it.

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