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Costco discounts Rx for uninsured

BY Doug Desjardins

ISSAQUAH, Wash. —Costco is enrolling up to 5,000 new members per week in its Costco Member Prescription Program that gives uninsured members deep discounts on hundreds of prescription drugs.

The program launched at pharmacies last July and now is available in every state in the United States where Costco does business. “It’s kind of a unique program for our members who don’t have insurance,” said Costco vice president of pharmacy Vic Curtis. “We work with our manufacturers and are able to offer members a discount through savings passed on either from the manufacturer or, in Costco’s case, from within our own margins.”

To qualify for the program, customers need to be current Costco members and fill out a registration form confirming they don’t have insurance. To deliver the extra savings, Costco works with manufacturers to create a preferred drug list of branded and generic drugs that can be provided with a discount.

When filling a prescription for a program member, pharmacists check the list for the prescription or search for a similar less-expensive drug that serves the same need. “Our pharmacists have members check with their physicians to make sure a drug on the preferred list will work for them,” Curtis said.

Typical monthly savings on a 30-day supply of drugs is $15, but the savings vary. Curtis said the best example is a 30-day supply of Prevacid, which is available to program members for $101.17 at a cost savings of $49.58. On the lower end, members can save $7 on a one-month supply of Lunesta.

Costco expects to add more drugs to its preferred list as more pharmaceutical companies join the program. Costco will also begin adding signs in its pharmacies to let people know the program is available after giving it a soft launch last summer.

Curtis said Costco currently has 61,000 members in the program and hopes to enroll many more in the coming months. “Our goal is to eventually have 250,000 to 300,000 members enrolled in the program.”

Costco also announced plans to open a second central fill center this year in the city of Corona, Calif., that will help fill orders online and at dozens of pharmacies in Southern California. “We’re going to be working with AmerisourceBergen, and we hope to have it up and running by September,” said Costco senior vice president of pharmacy Charles Burnett.

He said the fill center in Corona—located about 40 miles east of Los Angeles—would fill prescriptions for about 40 warehouses in Southern California and as far away as Las Vegas.

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Sturken to celebrate his fifth year at Spartan by ringing NASDAQ bell

BY Michael Johnsen

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Spartan Stores’ chairman and chief executive officer Craig Sturken is slated to ring the NASDAQ opening bell on March 3 in celebration of his fifth anniversary leading Spartan, the company announced Thursday.

 “It is an honor to ring the opening NASDAQ bell in celebration of our fifth successful year since transforming into a consumer-centric organization and refocusing our business on our core distribution and retail operations,” Sturken stated. “We have been in the grocery business for more than 90 years and this is our eighth year as a public company, which is marked by our ability to develop and execute successful business strategies in a highly competitive market.”

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Unilever to reorganize company structure

BY Antoinette Alexander

LONDON Unilever, whose brands include Axe, Sunsilk and Dove, has announced that it is restructuring the company and combining its home and personal care segment and food segment into a single category structure.

Ralph Kugler, president of home and personal care, will step down in May at the Annual General Meetings after 29 years of service. The roles of president of home and personal care and president of foods will be merged under the leadership of Vindi Banga, currently president of foods.

To reflect the company’s focus on growth in developing markets, Central and Eastern Europe will be managed within an enlarged region comprised of Asia, Africa and Central and Eastern Europe. Western Europe will become a standalone region.

In other moves, Kees van der Graaf will retire in May from the Unilever board and from his role as president of Europe after a 32-year career with Unilever.

Harish Manwani, currently president of Asia/Africa, will lead the new expanded region. Doug Baillie will serve as president of Western Europe, having previously served as chief executive officer of Hindustan Unilever.

“These measures build naturally on the changes of recent years and give us an organizational structure even better placed to advance our growth agenda. At the same time, I want to express my deep appreciation to Kees and Ralph for the significant contribution they have made over long and distinguished years,” stated Patrick Cescau, group chief executive.

In addition, James Lawrence, currently chief financial officer, will be proposed in May for election as an executive director of Unilever. This change will mean that the Unilever board will be comprised of two executive directors and 11 non-executives.

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