Walgreens adds brawn to national retail pharmacy, clinical network

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT Scale matters.

(THE NEWS: Walgreens names SVP pharmaceutical development, market access. For the full story, click here)

Walgreens steadily has expanded its clout with pharmaceutical vendors and managed care plans as it muscles up its national retail pharmacy and clinical network. The hiring of a pharmaceutical industry veteran to head up its contract negotiations — both on the buy side with Walgreens’ drug manufacturing suppliers and on the sales and service side with third-party payers and health plans — is a clear sign that the retail pharmacy and healthcare powerhouse is ready to flex that market muscle.

Kermit Crawford, president of Walgreens pharmacy services, declared that the company is in full pursuit of nothing less than a transformative role for community pharmacy. The company has worked furiously over the last two years to build up its national clout as both the nation’s largest pharmacy retailer and the premier practitioner of a new model for integrated pharmacy and health.

As SVP pharmaceutical development and market access — another in a growing list of new titles at Walgreens — Berkowitz will be a key member of the company’s health-and-wellness solutions team. That team is charged with developing new pharmacy, preventive, disease management and patient adherence initiatives; integrating them with all the more than 8,200 points of care in Walgreens’ pharmacy and clinical network; and marketing them to employers, managed care plans and the rest of the payer community.

Berkowitz, who comes to Walgreens after having last served as group VP diversified products and global market access at Merck, seems well suited for a role in integrated health care and the search for strategic opportunities and new health solutions at Walgreens.

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