Both companies say they will comply with health-privacy laws and won't share data with the retail side of the business.
CVS says its existing capital budgets will cover costs of reinventing stores nationwide. A Walgreens spokesman said investments would be made "in a financially disciplined manner," declining to further quantify.
Unlike CVS, which stopped selling tobacco products in 2014, Walgreens has continued to sell cigarettes in most of its stores, drawing criticism from federal regulators, lawmakers as well as activists who say that tobacco products don't belong in a health store. Mr. Pessina says the chain is testing some tobacco-free stores and is encouraging employees in others to offer aids to quit smoking to customers buying cigarettes.
One recent weekday afternoon, Mr. Pessina, the company's CEO, walked through a store near the company's Deerfield, Ill., headquarters. In an area called the "health corner" were signs for optical, lab, hearing and pharmacy services. As Mr. Pessina quizzed the in-store optometrist about the number of visitors he was getting, a customer shuffled by pushing a shopping cart with a case of Bud Light. Across the store, a woman had her blood pressure checked.
Mr. Pessina said he's convinced moving away from traditional retail is the only way forward. "We are also a retailer," he said. "But we are above all a pharmacy."
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