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  • The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that Wal-Mart is about to embark “on a program to revamp its massive U.S. distribution system, putting fast-selling items such as home-cleaning goods and bathroom supplies on a quicker path to store shelves.

    “While drawing far less attention than its massive store network, Wal-Mart's cutting-edge warehouse and distribution system is credited as a prime reason for the company's rise to dominance in the retail industry with sales of $285 billion last year. In the U.S., most of what Wal-Mart sold went through one of its 117 distribution centers before hitting its shelves -- an average of 600,000 cases of products a warehouse a day.”

    According to the WSJ, the project has been driven by two things. First, Wal-Mart’s entry into the grocery business forced it to be faster and more efficient in term of store distribution.

    But lately, because Wal-Mart has faced rising costs for labor, gasoline and utilities, it is looking for ways to save money elsewhere – and cutting time and costs out of its supply chain seems like a pretty good idea.

    The program is expected to be fully implemented by 2007.

  • The Arkansas News Bureau reports that Bob Dufour, Wal-Mart’s director of pharmacy professional services and government relations, urged the US House of Representatives Health and Oversight and Investigations committees “to incorporate electronic medical records and an emergency federal prescription drug plan into the response to national emergencies like Hurricane Katrina.”

    He said that said “national stockpiles of medications and supplies should be on hand to ship to emergency centers or disaster zones, but local pharmacies are vital,” according to the news service. "There are many more community pharmacies and other types of local health care centers that are accessible and convenient to people in their communities," he said.

    And, Dufour urged the federal government to adopt a policy that would reimburse companies for uncompensated medical services.

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