Walgreen Co. has kicked off a program to deliver 90-day prescriptions for maintenance and chronic care medications through its retail pharmacies and worksite centers.

Walgreens, 90-day prescriptions, retail pharmacies, pharmacies, pharmacist, medications, drug store, 90-day at retail, Greg Wasson, Stanley Blaylock, Walgreens Health Services, managed care, benefit plans, insurers, mail order, maintenance medications, chronic care, Russell Redman

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Push for 90-day at retail prescriptions begins at Walgreens

September 29th, 2009

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreen Co. has kicked off a program to deliver 90-day prescriptions for maintenance and chronic care medications through its retail pharmacies and worksite centers.

Under the effort, unveiled Tuesday, pharmacists will work with patients, doctors, insurers, employers and managed care organizations to deploy 90-day at retail prescription programs for maintenance medications — including the conversion of 30-day chronic care prescriptions into 90-day prescriptions when appropriate, according to Walgreens.

The drug store chain said the move will give patients more choice, noting that the 90-day at retail option brings cost-effective access to medications where patients prefer to get their prescriptions.

According to Walgreens, many pharmacy benefit plans allow a 90-day supply of some medications from local retail pharmacies — often at a lower cost than a traditional 30-day prescription — yet many employers and other payors are not taking full advantage of that option. Other benefit plans penalize patients financially if they seek to fill prescriptions from their local pharmacy, and some patients are often required to use only mail order, the company added.

Walgreens has seen an increase of about 15% in adherence to medications for patients receiving a 90-day retail prescriptions compared with those receiving a 30-day supply, according to president and chief executive officer Greg Wasson, who called medication adherence "one of the most critical components of any health care program."

"As a provider of community-based pharmacy and health and wellness services, we can positively impact adherence by encouraging our patients to receive a 90-day supply for their chronic medications," Wasson said in a statement. "This program will lead to improved outcomes for patients and payors. With 25,000 highly trained pharmacists in more than 7,000 locations across the country, Walgreens is uniquely positioned to deliver the counseling and coaching needed to ensure patients properly take their prescription medications."

Targeted Walgreens programs already have achieved success with 90-day at retail prescriptions, Wasson pointed out.

"Taking into account that each 90-day prescription fill equals three times the volume of a 30-day fill, more than 24% of our Medicare Part D beneficiaries' prescription volume and 47% of our Prescription Savings Club members' prescription volume are filled as 90-day supplies at our retail pharmacies," he explained. "Based on that experience, we are confident this program will be extremely well-received."

Walgreens said its consumer research shows that patients would rather fill prescriptions at their local pharmacy, in part because they can ask a pharmacist questions and get counsel on managing their condition.

"Reducing costs, while at the same time providing better outcomes, is job No. 1 in health care today," commented Stanley Blaylock, president of Walgreens Health Services. "Walgreens is currently in many meaningful discussions with insurers and managed care companies about the cost-saving benefits inherent in our program. We encourage insurers and managed care companies to extend this 90-day at retail benefit to their members and pass on the savings through reduced co-pays. Many are already doing so, and we applaud them.

"We know that a 90-day supply program combined with access to local community pharmacist care can greatly improve the overall health spend and help patients manage their own costs and care," Blaylock stated.