Jewel and Rite Aid were once the largest pharmacy chains in the country.
But in 2008, they began to merge, and now, over the past two decades, the combined pharmacy company has become one of the largest in the world.
It’s a transformation that’s been driven by two things: one, the need to be more efficient, and two, the promise of lower prices.
But how did that transformation happen?
The answer lies in the company’s founders.
Jewel, founded in 1905, was born out of the pharmacy industry.
In 1907, John D. Rockefeller II, a prominent philanthropist, purchased a handful of shares of the now-defunct Cleveland-based Rite Aid chain, which had been struggling with a steep decline in business.
In 1908, he started his own pharmacy, a chain of large-format pharmacies called the Cleveland Clinic, which he would eventually acquire.
In 1911, a year before his death, he died at the age of 70.
Rockefeller’s daughter, Clara, took over as president of the company, and soon began to invest heavily in the brand, making it the largest private company in the United States.
In 1927, she married a businessman named William J. Langer, who would become the first CEO of the chain.
By 1928, the chain was selling $3.7 billion in annual revenue.
By 1930, it was worth $17 billion.
By 1936, the Cleveland brand had become a household name.
By 1938, Langer had created a new brand, Rite Aid, which was born in a small pharmacy in Cleveland called the Jewel Pharmacy.
Over the next half century, the company grew to be the world’s second-largest pharmacy chain.
Today, it has nearly 1,600 stores in 25 countries, accounting for more than half of all retail sales in the U.S. The combination of new ideas and an aging population combined with an aging stock of medicines helped make the jewel chain a success, and it was also one of America’s most successful corporations.
But, according to Fortune magazine, it wasn’t until the 1980s that the jewel pharmacy began to truly catch on.
In fact, the brand had been in business for over 60 years before Langer launched it.
That’s when the merger between the two companies came about, and the merger of the two brands brought about the first real consolidation of the entire pharmaceutical industry in the twentieth century.
“The merger of Langer and Rite-Aid brought about an explosion of consolidation,” says Elizabeth Pomerantz, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Wharton School of Finance.
“When it came to pharmaceuticals, the entire pharmacy industry was being destroyed.”
In the 1990s, many of the big pharmaceutical companies began to see the value of their own drugs, and they were able to take those drugs off the shelf.
In addition to that, the combination of Lager and RiteAid gave the company a chance to buy up a number of other large companies that had been suffering from competition from one another.
By 2002, Rite-Aide had become the biggest pharmaceutical company in America, with revenues of nearly $2.5 billion and assets of $10 billion.
But the combination didn’t stop there.
In the early 2000s, drugmakers began experimenting with newer medicines.
Many of them, like Pfizer and Merck, were experimenting with new drugs that had previously been found only in other countries.
And many of these new drugs had been developed by drugmakers, which meant they were easier to access, cheaper, and less expensive than their predecessors.
In 2003, the American Society of Clinical Oncology announced that it was developing a new therapy, known as pembrolizumab, which it hoped would one day cure a number from cancer.
Pfizer, meanwhile, was developing the drug Glivec, which Pfizer hoped could be used to treat a number cancer types.
Pomeranz says that, as a result, many other companies, like Glivek and Pfizer-owned Johnson & Johnson, began experimenting in the same area of medicine.
But some of these drugs were expensive, and many of them were also slow to develop.
“It’s hard to get a good product, and you have to be willing to spend a lot of money,” says Pomeranza.
“And when the price goes up, people are going to be a little bit nervous.”
In 2004, Pfizer announced that its drugs, including pembrolitaxel and pembraline, were about to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but there was a problem: The drugs were being developed in secret, and companies that wanted to use them were prohibited from selling them to the public.
Pfiser and other drugmakers tried to hide the fact that they were developing drugs for cancer.
But it wasn