Drugstores Not Helped by Rx Increases

While prescription volumes are up in the first quarter, drugstores didn't contribute much to these gains -- and drugstore stocks are paying the price in Wednesday trading.
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NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- Drugstore stocks are giving up earlier gains, even as prescription drug volume jumped 5.7% during the first quarter, according to Fitch Ratings.

While prescription volume is up, most of this increase isn't attributable to drugstores. Instead,

Express Script's

(ESRX)

buyout of

WellPoint's

(WLP)

NextRx division in 2009 and

Medco Health Solutions

(MHS)

were the biggest contributors.

Pharmacy benefit managers also saw stronger dispensing rates than retailers.

CVS Caremark

(CVS) - Get Report

has both a substantial retail and PBM business.

Rite Aid

(RAD) - Get Report

and

Walgreen

(WAG)

, however, are dependent on their retail locations.

Rite Aid is up 3.7% to $1.12 in afternoon trading. Earlier in the day, Rite Aid was advancing as much over 5%. Walgreen is slipping 1.5% to $32.42, while CVS is off 0.2% to $34.01.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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