Partner News: CVS Caremark Issues Statement in Response to Walgreens Unexpected Announcement

WOONSOCKET, R.I., June 7, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ –In response to the announcement from Walgreens today that it would not be participating in CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS) PBM pharmacy networks on a go forward basis, the Company issued the following statement:

As the nation’s largest pharmacy services company, the mission of CVS Caremark is to manage pharmacy costs for our clients and their members, improve health care outcomes and provide broad access and choice for consumers. We were surprised and disappointed by Walgreens’ announced intention not to participate on a go forward basis in CVS Caremark PBM pharmacy networks. Our network of participating pharmacies is currently the largest ever maintained by Caremark Pharmacy Services, our PBM business, with more than 64,000 participants (only about 7,000 of which are Walgreens stores). Walgreens is offered comparable reimbursement rates as other large national retail chains, including CVS/pharmacy.

Despite this, Walgreens continues to take steps that make it a high cost pharmacy provider and disrupt members. Walgreens has tried this approach several times in the past, targeting employers, health insurers and government entities. Today’s announcement by Walgreens is nothing more than a transparent effort to raise its reimbursement rates at the expense of plan sponsors and members and illustrates an inability to adapt to the demands of the marketplace in today’s challenging and rapidly evolving health care environment. CVS Caremark is focused on being responsive to our clients’ needs and offering them innovative solutions that reduce costs and improve health care outcomes. The fact is our clients, not retail pharmacies, dictate plan designs. Unfortunately, Walgreens has a demonstrated pattern of publicly objecting to plan designs not to their liking, such as mail based programs and other innovative programs that are designed to reduce costs and meet client needs.

CVS Caremark remains open to discussions regarding Walgreens continued participation in our PBM pharmacy networks. In fact, we just recently met with Walgreens management regarding these issues. However, we will continue to prioritize the needs of our clients and their members, including access to convenient and affordable pharmacy care. Furthermore, we believe a public relations strategy that threatens network withdrawal is not a proper way to resolve business issues and is not in the best interests of patient care.