CVS Caremark is also working to reinvent the role of its retail pharmacists and is gaining share by focusing on customer service, greater adherence, increased access and patient care improvements.
Pharmacy same-store sales increased 3.1% in 2011 — pushing CVS/pharmacy’s share of the total U.S. retail prescription market to 19.5%, up nearly six percentage points since 2004.
No doubt that much of the growth is credited to CVS Caremark’s more than 22,000 retail pharmacists, as their role increasingly shifts from primarily dispensing prescriptions to also providing services, including flu vaccinations and face-to-face patient counseling with respect to adherence to drug therapies, closing gaps in care and more cost-effective drug therapies.
For example, the company’s Retail Pharmacy adherence program is now in its fifth year and continues to experience strong performance. In the first half of this year alone, the CVS Caremark pharmacy teams proactively delivered 40 million live customer interventions across all of its stores, helping to improve adherence.
Then there is CVS Caremark’s Pharmacy Advisor program, which enables pharmacists to engage with PBM members who are diagnosed with chronic conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The pharmacists counsel their patients about the importance of being adherent to their medications and identify gaps in care that they educate the patient about and can bring to their physician’s attention. A recent analysis showed that after one year in the Pharmacy Advisor program, certain members using CVS/pharmacy retail locations had a 17.2% decline in gaps in care.
With nonadherence costing the U.S. healthcare system an estimated $300 billion annually in avoidable healthcare costs, it is clear that improving adherence is critical.
Another growth driver for retail pharmacy profits is generics. CVS Caremark sees significant opportunities on the horizon to further increase its generic dispensing rate.
Between 2012 and 2015, about $90 billion of branded drugs are scheduled to go generic. Generic penetration currently is approximately 73%, but it could rise to 85% to 90% as many new generics are introduced in the market.
It should also be noted that CVS Caremark expects to retain many of the scripts it gained as a result of the Walgreens-Express Scripts impasse and has set retention strategies in motion to help it achieve that goal.