Inside This Issue - News
Walgreens helps patients hurt by impasse with PBM
February 13th, 2012
DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreen Co. says its Prescription Savings Club (PSC) is being welcomed by thousands of patients with prescription drug benefit plans managed by Express Scripts Inc.
According to Walgreens, 700,000 customers have signed up for PSC, a drug discount program, since January 1 — the date that the pharmacy benefit manager stopped providing in-network coverage for prescriptions filled at the chain.
“We have heard from hundreds of thousands of patients that they want to preserve their relationship with Walgreens; this is reflected by the incredible number of PSC members we have signed up. We know patients are feeling disrupted by the prospect of losing the access we provide, including 24-hour service and having the medication they need in stock, so we are pleased so many of them have found a cost-competitive solution in the form of our PSC card,” says Michael Polzin, a Walgreens spokesman.
The PSC card promotion is part of a comprehensive national effort by Walgreens to help patients covered by an Express Scripts pharmacy network to continue using Walgreens when possible or to make a smooth transition to another community pharmacy.
To make it easier for patients to take advantage of the PSC, Walgreens in January offered a promotion on one-year memberships that was available to all PSC-eligible customers. The program offers savings on more than 8,000 brand name drugs and all generic medications. For more than 400 generics, Walgreens offers a three-month supply for less than $1 a week.
Among those who are using PSC is Janet Paz, a Walgreens pharmacy patient in Lowell, Mass., whose insurance is managed by Express Scripts.
“Being a patient here for more than 15 years, I was very upset Express Scripts wouldn’t cover my prescriptions filled at Walgreens. To me, it’s more than a pharmacy; it’s a friendship,” says Paz. “When my pharmacist took the time to tell me about the Prescription Savings Club, we discovered I could actually save on medications, including one that my plan doesn’t even cover. I don’t want to be forced to switch to another pharmacy that doesn’t know me. Choice is the No. 1 thing; now I can stay with Walgreens and save money.
Separately, over 200 organizations, community leaders, health care professionals and religious leaders from urban neighborhoods and inner cities across the country have urged Express Scripts to return to the negotiating table with Walgreens and allow the nation’s largest pharmacy chain to return to its network.
“We strongly urge Express Scripts to put the people of our communities at the forefront of this issue, because prolonging the loss of network access to the critical pharmacy services Walgreens provides will be devastating to our communities,” said Harry Alford, president and chief executive officer of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. “Walgreens has been committed to serving urban neighborhoods since its founding 110 years ago and continues to serve communities throughout the United States where quality health care services are scarce. The fact is 63% of all Americans, 75% of African-Americans and 78% of Latinos are living within three miles of a Walgreens store.”
Walgreens filled more than 80 million prescriptions managed by Express Scripts in the fiscal year ended August 31.