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Covid vaccine needs to be distributed exactly how the flu vaccine’s distributed: Henry Schein CEO

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Stan Bergman, Henry Schein CEO, speaks with Yahoo Finance on submitting a letter to the Congressional subcommittee supporting expanded COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: The health care product-maker Henry Schein posted record second quarter results today, beating estimates on both the top and bottom line. The New York-based company also raised its guidance for the rest of the year. Joining us now is Henry Schein CEO Stan Bergman. Stan, great to have you here on the show.

Congratulations on these results-- net sales jumping 76% to about $3 billion compared to a year ago, of course, when we were in the thick of the pandemic. But tell us what drove that performance for the company.

STAN BERGMAN: Alexis, thank you very much for having me on your program. Henry Schein is the largest provider of products and related services to office space health care practitioners. That's dentists and veterinarians-- that's dentists and physicians in the office-- in the private office. What drove sales in the quarter was a return to the office-- the dental office, the medical office-- by the public, and, of course, a demand for PPE to be used in the practice to ensure safety, and that patients are taken care of, and health is taken care of from a sepsis control point of view.

KRISTIN MYERS: So now that we are-- I know that the Delta variant is starting to surge, but so many folks are getting vaccinated-- although we have seen that vaccination pace and that rate start to slow, particularly in some areas of the Southeast and the South parts of the country. But now that we are trying to really come out of this pandemic, folks are heading back to school, going to restaurants. What is the growth and the demand that you think Henry Schein is going to be facing, particularly for some of this personal protective equipment and more?

STAN BERGMAN: Well, our demand for PPE, Alexis, has increased, and it's elevated levels that we expect will stay in place now going forward. The challenge we have is, of course, to deal with the vaccine hesitancy. And what is very, very important, Alexis, is to engage the physicians who are highly trusted in encouraging the public to obtain the vaccine, because we're only going to beat the virus if a significant number of the population actually have the vaccine. And the physicians are trusted. We need to engage them in providing vaccines in their practices and talking to their patients about receiving the vaccination.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: I know that you actually commissioned a study there at Henry Schein that found most people getting the vaccine said it was their doctor's opinion that was the deciding factor-- not peer pressure, not some incentive like a lottery ticket. I know there's been a lot of increased talk about the need for an annual COVID booster shot.

Your company, I know, provides flu vaccines to doctors offices on an annual basis. If that were to happen regarding COVID, what would that mean for your company's bottom line?

STAN BERGMAN: Well, I'm not sure we're that focused on the bottom line implications of providing the COVID vaccine to our customers-- the office-based physician, the pediatrician. Our business will grow in any event. We are interested in ensuring that the public receive the vaccination.

And in that context, physicians are highly trusted and they need to be brought into the process. It is very difficult today for physicians to actually access the vaccine. The mass distribution sites, the pharmacies have had a much easier time. Vaccines are distributed-- the COVID vaccine are distributed through 50 different state systems. It's very, very difficult for the practitioners to actually receive the vaccine in their practices.

The system is not set up for the office-based practitioners. They are trusted. They need to get these vaccines. And once they get it, i'm sure the vaccination rate will go up.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: I know that you even wrote a letter to Congress talking about how important it is for regular primary physicians to get their hands on these vaccines. What needs to be done to make that transition happen? And when do you think we might see it, now that we're seeing a more concerted effort on the part of this country to get more people vaccinated?

STAN BERGMAN: Alexis, what we need to do is distribute the COVID vaccine in exactly the same way we distribute the flu vaccine and multiple other vaccinations. We need to work through the highly capable distribution channel that is set up for distribution of vaccines in the United States. States should not be the distributor of vaccines.

We need to use the current system that effectively distributes vaccines-- flu vaccines, other vaccines-- in a very, very effective way, making it easy for the practitioners to obtain small quantities of these vaccines to vaccinate their patients in their offices.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right, Stan Bergman, CEO of Henry Schein, thanks so much for being with us today.