This post brought to you by Walgreens. All opinions are 100% mine.
My husband and I are both self-employed, and one of the main causes of stress in our home is the cost of our family's prescription medication. A dispute that includes one of the biggest pharmacy chains in the country has many of us searching for a new place to fill our prescriptions. When I was approached by Walgreens to discuss their current situation with Express Scripts, I agreed, as the topic hits close to home.
So what is going on, anyway?
I am sure that many of you have seen the signs pop up at your local pharmacy, "We accept Express Scripts" or "Welcome Express Scripts Customers".
Express Scripts acts as a middleman between the drug companies, pharmacies and their customers. They negotiate prescription pricing for their customers and determine the reimbursement rate for the pharmacy. The Walgreens company offered to hold rates for a new contract, not seeking an increase in rates. However, according to Walgreens, Express Scripts proposed to cut the reimbursement rate to Walgreens below industry standard to provide each prescription, as well as to define contract terms such as what does and does not constitute a brand and generic drug.
In short, the contract Walgreens had with Express Scripts expired as of December 31, 2011. Walgreens' customers, including those with Tricare, the military's healthcare and prescription program, must now find a new pharmacy to provide its medication.
Many of Express Scripts' 6 million patients have been customers of Walgreens for years and have formed a relationship with their local pharmacist. They will now have to utilize services from other pharmacies, many of which do not provide 24 hour or drive-through convenience. This adds another hurdle for patients already dealing with medical issues and high drug costs.
Walgreens has taken some steps to minimize disruption to its customers. This includes offering a special discount on the Prescription Savings Club at Walgreens. Through January, customers can join for only $5 for an individual and $10 for a family. Regular membership fees are $20 for an individual and $35 for a family.
Click on the following link for more information on Walgreens and Express Scripts.
Customers impacted by this dispute can go to the local media to voice their dissatisfaction. Have you had to switch pharmacies? If so, tell us in the comments.