Walgreens reaches out to benefit consultants on healthcare value
DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Wednesday directly appealed to benefit consultants with a letter apprising them of the chain’s withdrawal from Express Scripts’ pharmacy provider network, effective Jan. 1, 2012, and educating those consultants of the healthcare value that Walgreens still can deliver without Express Scripts.
The letter also makes a direct appeal to plan sponsors whose pharmacy benefit manager contracts soon will come up for renewal to either “select a PBM that includes Walgreens’ more than 7,700 pharmacies in their networks,” or perhaps consider “direct arrangements with plans currently using Express Scripts, to the extent permitted by their contracts.” The letter, a copy of which has been obtained by Drug Store News, included “a template agreement that can be used to implement such direct arrangements where permitted,” for consideration.
“We … wanted to remind you of the significant value Walgreens provides to plan sponsors and their members, as they consider their pharmacy benefit decisions,” Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness, wrote in the letter.
According to the letter, this includes:
Better generic performance. Walgreens helped Express Scripts clients drive greater penetration of generics — 73.9% during 2010 — which is 140 basis points better than the average of the Express Scripts retail network excluding Walgreens, based on Express Scripts’ own data. Walgreens consistently performs better in quickly driving generic utilization, reaching 80% generic utilization on new molecules more than four months faster on average than the industry average. This better generic performance translates to average savings of more than $2 per script, or $12 to $16 per member per year, which can save millions of dollars for plan sponsors in avoiding unnecessary branded drug costs;
More convenience and access. Walgreens offers the most retail pharmacies of any chain, including the most with 24-hour access, as well as drive-through pharmacies and a fully integrated online pharmacy with “scan your refill” options at all times and locations, and online pharmacy chat lines available to patients. Convenience and access translates into savings for plan sponsors by avoiding unnecessary emergency room and other hospital costs;
Competitive unit prices. Walgreens has highly competitive unit prices validated by external benchmarks. In fact, during the company’s recent acquisition of Duane Reade it found Walgreens offered significantly better unit prices;
Savings from chronic medication management. Walgreens offers superior programs that can help reduce not just pharmacy costs, but also medical costs, which is where the majority of the cost-savings opportunities exist. The Walgreens “Retail 90” program results in a 15 percentage point improvement in adherence to medications. In fact, Walgreens has the highest penetration of 90-day supply in the industry, at more than 20% of its adjusted scripts, whereas many pharmacies do not even have a 90-day offering. 90-day retail results in lower costs and savings for plan sponsors, often at unit rates that end up costing plan sponsors less than mail programs. Walgreens find these cost savings programs are often not adequately promoted by Express Scripts to plan sponsors; and
Broader healthcare value. Walgreens has the largest in-store immunization program, with more than 26,000 pharmacists who are certified immunizers. In fact, Walgreens is the second-largest provider of flu shots in the country, second only to the U.S. government. Walgreens also has more than 700 Take Care Clinics and worksite health-and-wellness centers providing easy, affordable access to health care. Many of these are in communities that are medically underserved.
“Plan sponsors whose pharmacy benefit management contracts are currently up for renewal may wish to select a PBM that includes Walgreens’ over 7,700 pharmacies in their networks,” Crawford added. “We also would be pleased to discuss direct arrangements with plans currently using Express Scripts, to the extent permitted by their contracts. We have attached for your consideration a template agreement that can be used to implement such direct arrangements where permitted.”
Innovation to present PharmAssist Optix at two pharmacy trade shows
JOHNSON CITY, N.Y. — Pharmacy automation equipment manufacturer Innovation will unveil a new device for automating the counting and processing of medications at two pharmacy trade shows this summer, the company said Tuesday.
Innovation said the PharmAssist Optix — part of its broader PharmAssist product line of pharmacy automation equipment — would be displayed at Cardinal Health’s Retail Business Conference in Las Vegas, which takes place from Thursday through Saturday, and at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ Pharmacy & Technology Conference in Boston next month.
The device works by taking a high-resolution image of each prescription’s vial contents and label and displaying them on a designated pharmacist’s workstation, thus enabling remote prescription verification through comparison with images in a drug database.
“We believe PharmAssist Optix is a game-changing technology that will have tremendous impact on the prescription dispensing process for all types of pharmacies,” Innovation EVP global business development Doyle Jensen said. “Optix helps pharmacies increase throughput, decrease dispensing errors and reduce labor costs, all of which contribute to a strong return on investment.”
Hamacher to host CE presentations at AmerisourceBergen’s National Healthcare Conference & Exposition
WAUKESHA, Wis. — Hamacher Resource Group will be hosting a series of continuing education presentations at AmerisourceBergen’s National Healthcare Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas from July 22 to 23.
Dave Wendland and Tom Boyer, both part of the owners group at HRG, will present four different educational sessions.
Of the four sessions presented by HRG, Wendland will present one for the management track (“Retail Realities” on July 22, from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.) and one for the drug information track (“Linking OTC Products with the Rx Department” on July 23, from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m). Boyer will present one for the merchandising track (“Merchandising Basics,” on July 23, from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.) and one for the marketing track (“Enhancing the Bottom Line: Five Profit Variables” on July 23, from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.). Each session is worth 1.5 CE credits.
Wendland, a thought leader and a 20-year veteran in the retail consumer healthcare industry, also is a regular contributor to HealthCare Distributor, writes for RetailWire’s BrainTrust blog and has spoken at such events as the Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing Disease State Management conference and Drug Store News’ Diabetes Roundtable. He also has moderated several panels and hosted multiple industry webinars.
Boyer, a national account manager at HRG, has extensive industry knowledge and has been with HRG since 1994. Most recently he has led a pharmacy curriculum project for colleges of pharmacy and helped shape HRG’s Retail Building Blocks: Home Health Care series. A frequent speaker at pharmacy schools and other industry events, Boyer also works directly with community-based pharmacies providing store assessments and performance report cards.