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Prescription for Change: Walgreens and Express Scripts End Relationship

Both companies are working to keep Wentzville customers in the loop and maintain good relations with the public.

The long-standing relationship between and metro St. Louis-based  ended on Jan. 1.

The pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) has been battling with Walgreens over contract issues for months. The dispute became public in June when .

Express Scripts said in a release that it is “receiving strong support from clients and expects greater than 95% of its clients' prescription volume will move forward into 2012 without Walgreens as a network provider.”

The company also said in October that it is working support Express Scripts clients and members as they transfer prescriptions away from Walgreens.

Walgreens' last stand

In an apparent effort to maintain customer relations, Walgreens set up a dedicated website for customers who don’t want to make the switch.

“Unfortunately, our contract renewal negotiations with pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts, Inc. have been unsuccessful, and as a result, we will likely not be part of Express Scripts’ pharmacy provider network as of January 1, 2012,” states the website.

The site suggests Express Scripts clients who have employer-provided health plans, TRICARE participants, and Medicare Part D participants, take action to help Walgreens keep its contract.

Customers are offered downloadable documents they can use to mail or hand-deliver to employers, as well as the option to send an email backing Walgreens. Also offered are suggestions on who to contact within employer organizations, petitions for co-workers, and more.

All TRICARE plans will be affected by the loss of the relationship, and Walgreens provides comprehensive lists of the employer-provided prescription plans, as well as the specific Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage prescription drug plans that will be affected.

You’ve got local options

Brian Henry, a spokesperson for Express Scripts, told Patch St. Louis-area Express Scripts members have many low-cost, convenient options locally.

“These are places you probably already go to on a regular basis,” he said. “In St. Louis, you can go to a number of grocery stores, big box stores and independent pharmacies.”

Making the switch will be easy, he said.

 “Just take your empty pill bottle to your new pharmacy and ask the pharmacist for help,” Henry said.  “(The pharmacist) can call Walgreens and take care of it. The whole process takes about a minute.”

Henry pointed out that Express Scripts has an online pharmacy locator that will help customers find new pharmacies. Some of the metro St. Louis pharmacies Express Scripts works with include:

  • grocery stores such as , Shop ‘n Save and
  • major retail chain pharmacies such as and Kmart
  • some independent and chain pharmacies, such as the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy 
  • local hospitals

Just enter your zip code, along with any other specific information you’d like to share, into the pharmacy locator to get a comprehensive list of participating pharmacies in your area.

You can also have your prescriptions delivered right to your door with the Express Scripts Pharmacy’s home delivery option.

“We’ve worked with our clients, which include employers, health plans, government agencies and unions who provide health benefits, to make sure their members understand they have all these options,” Henry said. “We’ve sent letters to member identifying the three closest pharmacies to them, made phone calls and a number of other actions to make sure they understand.”

He added Express Scripts has received “overwhelming support” from its clients since Walgreens announced it would not renew its contract.

“Bottom line, our job is to make medicine stays safe, affordable and broadly accessible to our members, and that’s what we intend to keep doing,” Henry said.

Tina J. January 03, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Apparently Express Scripts has no mercy for their clients who are in dire need of certain medications right away, since Walgreens is sometimes the only 24 hour option for at least 100 miles in every direction. If only others could see the distraught look on the face of parents who either had to pay full price or wait until the next day when another pharmacy is open in order to get much needed medication for their ill children, some of which require breathing treatments ("So sorry, but if you can't pay for the script, your're child will just have to go back to the emergency room or just suffer.") What about someone in need of heart medication, they're out and no one else is open?(So sorry, I hope you know the symptoms of a heart attack and are able to dial 911.)
Brendon Duplichan January 03, 2012 at 02:57 AM
wondering ...why other retailers are welcoming ESI.Do they have better terms ???Or/IS walgreens being greedy??...How come a local Rx can handle the return from ESI and Not a billionare walgreens...mmmm ...how can all other retailers can close christmas day and walgreens dont(but rx closed).....mmmm
megadex January 03, 2012 at 06:00 AM
Walgreens wasn't losing money, but they weren't profiting much off it either. Walgreens has stated, that staying with express scripts "isn't in the best interest of their stock holders." They don't care about the customers.

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