PHARMACY

Walgreens releases data, white paper touting value of 90-day retail refills

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — One year after launching a national awareness campaign focused on the benefits of 90-day prescription refills at retail pharmacies, Walgreens on Friday released new data supporting the success of the 90-day refill program and its overarching benefits to patients and payers. Walgreens also released a white paper outlining in greater detail the ways in which 90-day retail refills can help improve adherence and reduce costs.

“We know that the 90-day retail option can be effective in helping to reduce overall healthcare costs and improve patient outcomes through better medication adherence,” stated Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy health-and-wellness services and solutions. “Medication nonadherence is one of the biggest hurdles in treating illness today. In addition to working with patients and payers to drive cost savings, our 90-day retail offerings have fostered deep and trusted relationships with our pharmacists and given patients greater convenience, resulting in 15% greater adherence versus 30-day.”

The key data underscoring the initiative’s success to date includes:

  • An increase of more than 30% in 90-day retail prescription volume with more than 150 million adjusted 90-day prescriptions filled during calendar year 2011;

  • Increases in Walgreens 90-day retail market share — including year-over-year growth from 17.6% to more than 20.3% in December; and

  • An industry-leading awareness level of customers knowledgeable of the 90-day retail option — more than 8 percentage points higher than the competition.

The 90-day retail initiative focuses on informing eligible patients of the option to receive 90-day medication supplies from their neighborhood Walgreens retail pharmacy, and encourages prescription plan administrators to offer this choice to their members. Walgreens had developed the campaign to heighten awareness of 90-day retail options, citing a prior lack of awareness (58%) among patients as a primary barrier to greater adoption of 90-day prescriptions. 

Walgreens also issued a new white paper, “The Value of 90-Day Retail,” (to download, click here) further analyzing the benefits of 90-day prescription refills at retail pharmacies, including those the company’s clients and partners have recognized through the recent addition of this option to their benefits plans.

“Today’s healthcare landscape continues to evolve, along with the growing needs of payers and health plans, and there is strong evidence supporting the benefits of adding a 90-day retail option,” stated Jeffrey Berkowitz, Walgreens SVP pharmaceutical development and market access. “While some are focused on reducing choice and convenience for members, we believe programs like 90-day retail, which offers much greater options, can be a key driver in maximizing member benefits and savings. Walgreens is driving greater consumer awareness, and with innovative technology and convenient nationwide access, we’re uniquely positioned to help bring this offering to other healthcare groups.”

The paper examines how combining 90-day retail refills with the more common 30-day retail and 90-day mail options can help achieve cost savings, improved medication adherence and patient outcomes, as well as higher member satisfaction. The paper also unveils data refuting common misconceptions around 90-day retail options, such as the belief that savings generated would be negated by mail-order cannibalization or that it increases medication waste.

The white paper also features a new case study outlining how a mid-sized pharmacy benefit manager client has realized more than $43 million in cost savings, driven by an 18% increase in total 90-day penetration — just 18 months after adopting a 90-day retail offering.


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PHARMACY

Par completes acquisition of Edict

BY Alaric DeArment

WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J. — Generic drug maker Par Pharmaceutical has completed its acquisition of an Indian drug company, Par said.

Par announced that it had completed its $20.5 million acquisition of Chennai, India-based Edict Pharmaceuticals.

Edict specializes in oral solid drugs and currently has 11 regulatory approval applications under review at the Food and Drug Administration.


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Now it’s proven: specialty pharmacy helps reduce healthcare spend

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — "I appreciate the fact that [Walgreens is] trying to do some very good things with respect to clinical offerings and other avenues to try to impact the overall healthcare spectrum. But quite frankly, that hasn’t been proven to reduce cost." That was what George Paz, Express Scripts chairman, president and CEO, said Thursday morning about the go-to-market strategy currently being employed by Walgreens. Later that day, Walgreens released these data — contrary to Paz’s take on the value of Walgreens. While the timing of Walgreens’ announcement soon after Paz made his remarks might have been serendipitous, the results — that Walgreens is helping to reduce cost with respect to clinical offerings and other avenues — is not the kind of good fortune you come across accidentally.

(THE NEWS: Study: Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy can cut infusion medication costs by more than half. For the full story, click here.)

Bottom line: Specialty pharmacy services are one way retail pharmacy operators can effectively move that healthcare cost needle down, and it’s something that pharmacy operators from independents on up to national chains like Walgreens have been doing for a while now.

Specialty pharmacy is an overall healthcare-cost-cutting tool that Walgreens means to keep sharp — just this month, Walgreens announced its proposed acquisition of BioScrip’s community specialty pharmacies and centralized specialty and mail-service pharmacy businesses, all of which will further help grow Walgreens’ ability to leverage its specialty pharmacy division against those rising healthcare costs. According to the company, Walgreens is already the nation’s leading provider of home infusion and No. 3 provider of specialty pharmacy, and the BioScrip acquisition will help to fortify that position.

As another example as to the influence Walgreens can potentially have on cost reduction initiatives through its specialty pharmacy and infusion pharmacy arms, Walgreens’ Medical Injectable Drug Program recently saved a health plan client approximately $28.5 million over a two-year period by facilitating the dispensing of almost 50 injectable pharmaceutical products typically administered in physician offices to the lower-cost option of Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy, Walgreens executives recently told DSN.

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