Need Meds? Show Your Support for Walgreens as They Split with Express Scripts

Walgreen defends its split with Express Scripts, and CEO Greg Wasson says the drugstore chain is focusing on the future.

Walgreen's, the nation’s largest pharmacy chain, does have a history of battling with any adversary, but the typically their disputes with pharmacy benefit managers and even Walgreen's unionized employees have ended in agreement. However, the drugstore’s latest battle with Express Scripts Inc. may prove to be Walgreen's first loss. Photo: Michael Karshis/Flickr

This post brought to you by Walgreens. All opinions are 100% mine.

As of December 31st, 2011, Walgreens no longer has a contract with Express Scripts. Walgreens is one of the largest pharmacy chains, and Express Scripts is one of the largest prescription middle-men.

When Walgreens and Express Scripts cannot work together, customers like you and I suffer. Basically, if you insurance company uses the Express Scripts program, you will not be able to fill your prescription at Walgreens.

If Walgreens is the only pharmacy in your town, you’ll have to travel elsewhere. Even if Walgreens isn’t the only source for prescriptions, you should be able to use whichever pharmacy you want, shouldn’t you?

Walgreens said the refusal by Express Scripts, Inc., the pharmacy benefit manager for Tricare, to separate the Tricare business from its other business disputes with Walgreens suggests a willingness to sacrifice the needs of Tricare beneficiaries, an action especially surprising in light of the outpouring of support from U.S. military families for continued access to Walgreen pharmacies.

Walgreens extended several offers to Express Scripts during negotiations including “an ironclad guarantee that Walgreens prices would match or even beat the average costs per adjusted prescription of all other pharmacies in the Tricare network”. Express Scripts refused.

In an effort to minimize any disruption, a special discount is being offered on annual membership for the Prescription Savings Club at Walgreens.

An individual can join during their January promotion for only $5.00, or $10.00 for a family membership. Regular annual membership is $20 for an individual and $35 for a family.

As part of the program, members receive savings on more than 8,000 brand-name and all generic medications, discounts on flu shots, prescriptions for your pet, nebulizers, and diabetic supplies. Members also receive bonuses for purchasing Walgreens brand products and photofinishing services.

Walgreens is the nation’s largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2011 sales of $72 billion. The company operates 7,786 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Each day, Walgreens provides nearly 6 million customers the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice in communities across America.

Walgreens scope of pharmacy services includes retail, specialty, infusion, medical facility and mail service, along with respiratory services. These services improve health outcomes and lower costs for payers including employers, managed care organizations, health systems, pharmacy benefit managers and the public sector.

Take Care Health Systems is a Walgreens subsidiary that is the largest and most comprehensive manager of worksite health and wellness centers and in-store convenient care clinics, with more than 700 locations throughout the country.

Express Scripts’ rejection of Walgreens offers means that Tricare’s nearly 6 million beneficiaries will no longer have in-network insurance coverage for prescriptions they fill at Walgreens and Duane Reade pharmacies starting on Jan. 1, 2012.

“During Walgreens 100-plus years of serving the pharmacy needs of America’s military personnel, families and retirees, we have developed a trusted relationship that Tricare beneficiaries value and depend on,” said Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness solutions and services.

“We urge Express Scripts to heed the call of more than 250,000 Tricare members and their supporters so far, to prevent disruption of Tricare members’ relationship with our community pharmacists and put the needs of military communities ahead of this business matter.”

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