When Walgreens and Express Scripts finally came to terms and agreed to again do business with each other in mid-2012, it marked the formal end of one of the costliest disputes in the history of pharmacy retailing and managed care.
For decades, community pharmacy has waged a tireless campaign to gain recognition as an equal partner on the nation’s healthcare delivery team, and support for the role pharmacists can play as front-line patient care advocates.
In 2011 and 2012, the steady surge of blockbuster pharmaceuticals falling off the patent cliff became a stampede. An astonishing number of big-selling drugs that had established and sustained branded drug makers’ profits for years fell victim to the expiration of their patent lives and market exclusivity, roiling the pharmaceutical marketplace and redefining the pricing model for many of the most widely prescribed classes of medicines.
With health reform and health cost imperatives driving the need to find alternative, community-based ways to deliver more cost-effective follow-up care, the retail clinic model could be poised for a new round of rapid growth.
With new payment models beginning to change the way hospitals and health providers are reimbursed for their services, health plan payers scrambling to control unsustainable medical costs and health information technology linking up the patient care silos, a more integrated and patient-centric care model is emerging out of the chaos of a health system in transformation.
The success of Rite Aid’s Wellness store is in the experience. It’s welcoming. It’s engaging. And across various touchpoints throughout the store, it helps guide Rite Aid customers toward however it is they define “well.” That’s as much a function of design of the stores as it is the people and the products in those stores.
Ultimately, there’s no “retail pharmacy” without the “pharmacy,” and that’s true of any store that dispenses prescription drugs — whether it’s a small independent drug store, a nationwide chain, a supermarket or a mass merchandiser. But in many respects, Rite Aid is trying to make the “pharmacy” component of that phrase just a little bit bigger.