PHARMACY

Walgreens, three PBMs launch ad campaign warning of networks without Walgreens

BY Michael Johnsen

BOISE, Idaho — Walgreens on Friday joined with three pharmacy benefit managers — Altius Health Plans, Coventry Health Care and HealthAmerica — for an awareness campaign to educate employers on the benefits of a pharmacy network that includes Walgreens.

The campaign includes print and radio advertisements and outreach to employers. The campaign warns employers that if Walgreens is removed from their pharmacy network beginning Jan. 1 (a reference to the day Walgreens will no longer be a part of the Express Scripts network, though Express Scripts is not named in any of the releases), their employees may face disruptions in pharmacy care and, in some cases, "employers without Walgreens in their pharmacy network could end up paying higher overall medical costs."


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PHARMACY

Campaign encourages Ga.-based employers to include Walgreens in 2012 pharmacy networks

BY Allison Cerra

SAVANNAH, Ga. — Coventry Health Care of Georgia has launched an awareness campaign with Walgreens that underscores the benefits of including the drug store chain in employers’ 2012 pharmacy networks.

The campaign — which includes print and radio advertisements and outreach to companies whose current health plans will not include Walgreens in their 2012 pharmacy networks — seeks to educate employers in the Augusta and Savannah areas about how they can ensure access to convenient pharmacy services for their employees, Coventry said.

“Coventry knows that employers in both Augusta and Savannah want their employees to have convenient access to the pharmacy of their choice. Walgreens offers among the most convenient pharmacy locations in these areas,” Coventry Health Care of Georgia CEO Tom Davis said. “Coventry recognizes the importance of including Walgreens in our pharmacy network, and we want Augusta and Savannah employers and consumers to know they have a choice with Coventry.”

Added Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness, “Walgreens and Coventry Health Care of Georgia have a strong relationship that makes pharmacy services convenient and accessible for patients and customers in the Augusta and Savannah communities. This relationship gives employers the opportunity to best serve their employees with comprehensive network access to the pharmacy providers who can help patients stay healthy.”


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PHARMACY

Study: Retail-based clinics a viable business for Walmart, other retailers, if managed correctly

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK — Retail-based health clinics represent a viable business for retailers who locate and correctly manage them, according to Kalorama Information.

The healthcare market research publisher, which is a division of MarketResearch.com, made its assessment based on the recent news that Walmart may dramatically expand its retail clinics offering.

Walmart has denied that it is building a national, integrated, low-cost primary care healthcare platform; however, the retailer reportedly has not disputed that it is looking for new partners for its 140 clinics nationwide.

According to published reports, Walmart is looking to partner with outside healthcare companies to treat and manage a range of medical conditions — including HIV, diabetes, arthritis and clinical depression.

“While medical clinics locations are still relatively few in the U.S., the concept survived the recession and legislative challenges,” stated Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama Information. “We’ve always felt our forecasts could be dramatically changed if a major retailer jumped in, and recent news suggests that may happen.”

Kalorama has completed three studies on the budding industry over the past five years and estimates in-store medical clinic sales at $733.4 million.

Several years ago, Walmart had announced as many as 400 medical clinics in its stores, but then shuttered some locations. Today, the retailer’s website lists approximately 140 Clinic at Walmart locations, which is just a fraction of all U.S. stores. However, this could change soon, as Walmart sent out a request-for-information document to strategic partners.

According to Kalorama, the retailer could benefit from tying new clinics into the store rather than keeping them as independent entities outside the main traffic zone.

“They can’t be seen the same as a travel agency, optometrist or Subway sandwich shop,” Carlson said. "Our research has found that retail clinics work best when connected to pharmacies, when supported by store management and when their success or failure is measured on indirect as well as direct revenue.”

Kalorama noted the success of retail clinics in pharmacies versus other locations. CVS’ MinuteClinic grew from 541 stores in 2009 to more than 560 in 2011. Meanwhile, Walgreens also embraced the concept and its Take Care Clinics have gone from 250 to approximately 330 in two years’ time.

Kalorama’s study indicated that such mass outlets as Walmart or Costco could gain at least $800 per day from indirect revenues — extra purchases made by customers who came to the store to receive primary care services.


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