mail-order and retail, was 226.1 million, a 9.4 percent increase over the first quarter of 2008. In line with previous guidance, mail-order prescription volume was 25.7 million, a 3.4 percent decrease from first-quarter 2008. Significant new business wins drove higher than expected retail volumes, reaching 149.4 million, a robust 17.5 percent increase over first-quarter 2008. Given the elevated incremental retail volumes, the adjusted mail-order penetration rate decreased 4.4 percentage points from first-quarter 2008 to 34.0 percent. (Please see Table 5 for the calculation of adjusted prescription volume.)
Total gross margin for first-quarter 2009 increased nearly 5 percent over first-quarter 2008, to $944.1 million. As a direct result of the incremental retail volumes, the total gross margin percentage decreased 50 basis points to 6.4 percent from 6.9 percent in the first quarter of 2008.
Total selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses of $340.3 million increased 3.6 percent, or $11.9 million, from first-quarter 2008. Sequentially, SG&A expenses decreased 10.7 percent, or $40.7 million, from $381.0 million last quarter.
Earnings Before Interest Income/Expense, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) for the quarter reached a record $647.0 million, an increase of 5.7 percent, or $35.1 million, over the same period last year. Driven by the very strong retail volumes in the overall prescription mix, EBITDA per adjusted prescription decreased 3.4 percent to $2.86 from $2.96 in the first quarter of 2008. (Please refer to Table 6 for a reconciliation of EBITDA to reported net income.)
Total interest and other (income) expense, net, of $41.6 million in first-quarter 2009 decreased 23.4 percent, or $12.7 million, compared to the same period in 2008, largely attributable to lower interest rates and increased cash balances.
The first-quarter 2009 effectiv
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