WSJ report: Interest in narrower pharmacy networks on the rise

NEW YORK — The trend toward “narrow” pharmacy networks is expected to continue, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Walgreens’ split from PBM giant Express Scripts — many of whose millions of plan members now are getting their prescriptions filled elsewhere after the two companies failed to come to terms over reimbursement rates — has opened the door for interest in networks that limit the number of drug stores available to pharmacy-benefit customers, the WSJ reported.

The WSJ said that shifts to such networks won’t necessarily happen overnight but there’s no doubt that narrow networks are getting a lot more attention today compared with prior years.

"It's more of a discussion point than it's been in the past," David Dross, who leads the managed-pharmacy practice at consulting firm Mercer LLC, was quoted as telling the WSJ.

Tony Perkins, senior director of investor relations at PBM SXC Health Solutions, cited a "huge spike" in requests to explore narrow networks, driven by the need to create comparisons with Express Scripts offerings, but a smaller increase so far actually using such plans, the article stated.

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