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CVS to debut 1st store concept in Houston

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CVS to debut 1st store concept in Houston

The first version of CVS Health Corp.'s one-stop health services shop is set for a February opening in Houston, the company's top official said Jan. 8.

Speaking at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, CEO and director Larry Merlo said the store will feature a "care concierge" to refer customers to an expanded range of services, such as in-store blood draws and new screenings for chronic diseases.

CVS already has launched pilot versions of certain medical services, including a program to help customers schedule follow-up appointments after a hospital visit as well as counseling with pharmacists for patients at high risk of health problems, Merlo said.

CVS plans to launch other pilot programs during the current quarter, such as care designed for patients with cardiovascular disease, Merlo said.

"While it's only been six weeks [since the deal's close], we are absolutely off and running," the CEO said at the conference.

Merlo's comments offer additional clarity on the services that CVS plans to provide as a result of its acquisition of insurer Aetna Inc. Since announcing its plans to acquire Aetna, worth $69 billion, in December 2017, CVS has outlined a plan to expand the range of health services it offers, including through its MinuteClinic arm.

Merlo also said a review of CVS' deal for Aetna being conducted by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia would not prevent CVS from integrating with Aetna. Judge Richard Leon allowed most integration between CVS and Aetna to proceed in December 2018. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice has indicated that it will review comments on the deal as part of a review.

But the review "will not impact the timeline for achieving the targeted synergies," the CEO told the audience. CVS expects cost savings from operating CVS and Aetna together to exceed $750 million by the second year of operations.

The annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco brings together more than 9,000 investors, analysts and executives from more than 450 public and private companies.