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In-store veteran ActMedia is moving into the growing pharmacy couponing business, with an ambitious launch to dwarf the current players.

Target Rx is a venture between ActMedia and Medi-Span, a provider that has relationships with 35,000 pharmacies nationwide for multiple databases including drug information and dose checking.

Projected to be available in 10,000 stores by September, Target Rx will integrate Medi-Span's database with ActMedia's marketer contacts to create a pharmacy system that issues over-the-counter product coupons related to prescription purchases.

John Rubin, VP-marketing at ActMedia, said Target Rx's advantage is that many pharmacies already use Medi-Span's system.

Target Rx will compete with HealthCare Data Corp.'s Medi-Link Point-of-Care Coupons and Health Resource Publishing.

Unlike its competitors, Health Resource Publishing's printout includes information on the condition being treated and offers color ads to reach pharmacy customers with non-targeted products, too.

Health Resource Publishing serves nine retailers, including Pathmark, Von's and Kroger's, and expects to jump from 300 stores to 1,500, and 18 more retailers, by yearend. HealthCare is in 250 stores of five chains, and plans this year to hit up to 1,000 stores.

"ActMedia lends credence to the concept" of pharmacy couponing, said Mike McClorey, president of Health Resource, a unit of Catalina Marketing. "It will be an interesting race."

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