A year after launch, Walgreen Co. said its 90-day refill at retail program is catching on.

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Walgreens touts gains with 90-day refills at retail

February 24th, 2012

DEERFIELD, Ill. – A year after launch, Walgreen Co. said its 90-day refill at retail program is catching on.

Under the program, which rolled out in January 2011, Walgreens informed eligible patients about the option to get 90-day medication supplies from their local Walgreens retail pharmacy. The drug chain also urged prescription plan administrators to offer that option to members.

Walgreens said Friday that to date, it has seen an increase of more than 30% in 90-day retail prescription volume, with over 150 million adjusted 90-day prescriptions filled during calendar year 2011.

The chain also reported increases in its 90-day retail market share, including year-over-year growth from 17.6% to about 20.3% in December. The company also said it has "an industry-leading awareness level" of customers who know about the 90-day retail option,  more than 8 percentage points higher than competitors.

Walgreens said it developed the campaign to raise awareness of 90-day retail options, citing a prior lack of awareness (58%) among patients as an obstacle to broader adoption of 90-day prescriptions.

"We know that the 90-day retail option can be effective in helping to reduce overall health care costs and improve patient outcomes through better medication adherence," Kermit Crawford, president of pharmacy, health and wellness services and solutions at Walgreens, said in a statement. "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."

Also on Friday, Walgreens released a white paper titled "The Value of 90-Day Retail" that further assesses 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.

The drug chain said the paper examines how combining 90-day retail refills with the more common 30-day retail and 90-day mail options can help realize savings, improve medication adherence and patient outcomes, and raise member satisfaction.

Walgreens noted that the paper also provides data clearing up 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.

Key findings in the paper include the following:

• 7% savings for 90-day prescriptions versus three 30-day fills, driven by improved generic drug utilization and lower dispensing fees.

• 15%  increase in medication adherence through 90-day retail compared with 30-day.

• 85% of patients value face-to-face interaction with a pharmacist and report higher satisfaction levels with 90-day refills at retail because they have a choice where their prescriptions are filled and can maintain a personal relationship with the pharmacist.

Walgreens added that the white paper include a case study of how a midsize pharmacy benefit manager client has realized more than $43 million in savings from an 18% increase in total 90-day penetration, just 18 months after adopting a 90-day retail offering.

"Today's health care 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, senior vice president of pharmaceutical development and market access at Walgreens.

"While some are focused on reducing choice and convenience for members," he explained, "we believe programs like 90-day retail, which offer 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 health care groups."