Walgreens to remain part of three ESI networks; Tricare not one of them

ESI rebuffs chain's 'price guarantee' for Tricare

DEERFIELD, Ill. — To date, Walgreens and Express Scripts in the past month have navigated three one-off deals that will keep Walgreens' more than 7,800 pharmacies in the ESI pharmacy network, but the U.S. Department of Defense's Tricare does not look likely to become one-off deal No. 4, according to published reports.

The three one-off deals came to pass because those payers contractually are allowed to choose their own network of pharmacy providers. According to a report in Chicago Business powered by Crain's, Express Scripts reported it has only six clients with contracts that would allow these one-off agreements, where a payer can in effect mandate the inclusion of Walgreens in ESI's pharmacy benefit network, out of an overall client base of about 120 companies.

It doesn't appear, though, that Tricare is one of those clients, as Walgreens on Monday reached out to ESI in an effort to keep serving the approximately 6 million covered by the Department of Defense health plan.

Walgreens on Monday renewed its efforts to lock in a contract with Tricare with what the Chicago-based pharmacy dubbed "an ironclad guarantee" that the drug store chain's prices would match or beat the average costs per adjusted prescription of all other pharmacies in the Tricare network. Walgreens added that it will produce savings for the program "without disrupting beneficiaries’ choice of a network pharmacy provider."

Express Scripts turned down the offer, according to a report in the St. Louis Business Journal. "If Walgreens would offer a good deal for our clients, we would accept it," messaged Express Scripts spokesman Brian Henry to the Business Journal in an email on Monday. "As we’ve said all along, we would welcome [Walgreens] in our network, but only at rates that are right for our clients."

As previously reported by Drug Store News, Walgreens announced its withdrawal from the Express Scripts pharmacy network come January. Earlier this month, the two reached an agreement pertaining to MMM Healthcare and PMC Medicare Choice plans in Puetro Rico, which will allow MMM and PMC members to have continued access to the Walgreens pharmacy network.

On Friday, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City announced that Walgreens will remain in its Express Scripts pharmacy network as of Jan. 1, 2012.


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