Gates most recently served as group vice president of pharmacy. With the promotion, he will oversee commercial development and sales, contracting, pharma development, pharmacy supply chain, and clinical programs and alliances, Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) said.
He reports to Richard Ashworth, president of operations for Walgreens.
“Rick‘s 22 years of experience, grounded in pharmacy and operations, position him well to bring together our commercial and pharmacy strategies and assess the impact to our patients and stores,” Ashworth said in a statement.
After joining Walgreens as a pharmacist and pharmacy manager in 1995, Gates spent most of his career at the company in store and pharmacy operations before joining Walgreens’ support office.
He became executive pharmacy director of Western operations in June 2009 and, while in that role, was responsible for pharmacy integration during the Duane Reade acquisition. He also led a team ensuring operational enablement and execution of strategic programs.
Gates was appointed divisional vice president of health and wellness initiatives in December 2011 and then vice president of pharmacy operations in February 2015 before being named group vice president of pharmacy.
He currently serves as a board member of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation and the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy Leadership Board, and he’s an active member of the American Pharmacists Association, National Council for Prescription Drug Programs and National Specialty Pharmacy Association.
Gates’ appointment comes as partnerships with health care stakeholders have helped Walgreens expand its pharmacy share. An agreement with OptumRx, UnitedHealth Group’s PBM, exemplifies the strategy. Designed to deliver a more convenient, accessible and connected pharmacy experience, the deal covers 90-day scripts, medication adherence and health care analytics.
And last fall saw the launch of AllianceRx Walgreens Prime. The new entity merged the specialty pharmacy and mail service capabilities of Walgreens and Prime Therapeutics LLC. Beyond increased purchasing scale, the addition of Prime’s clinical and lives management gave both companies the opportunity to accelerate and grow together.
The launch included the unveiling of new headquarters signage in Orlando. It also formally introduced the new brand to patients, some of whom had begun to see the name and logo on prescriptions and correspondence. Full consumer rollout, and all components of the company, are expected to be aligned to the new brand by the end of March.