Take Care ads target payers and patients
DEERFIELD, Ill. —You don’t have to look far to find the solutions that today’s robust retail pharmacy business model is providing for both employers and consumers to help save on health care. Just check your daily newspaper.
Within the past few weeks, Take Care Health Systems, owned by Walgreens, presented healthcare cost-saving opportunities that cut across both sides of its business. In the April 1 edition of the Wall Street Journal, Take Care promoted its comprehensive Employer Solutions, promising to save employers more than $2 to $4 for every $1 spent on Take Care. And in the March 31 edition of USAToday, Take Care advertised its Take Care Recovery Plan—a “we’ve got your back” exclusive offering from Take Care and Walgreens. Under the plan, if a Take Care customer loses his or her job and insurance coverage this year, Take Care will provide its free care to that customer and his or her immediate family for the remainder of the year.
“As healthcare costs continue to soar and financial pressures increase, it may seem like only a matter of time before what’s best for your company becomes somehow at odds with what’s best for your employees,” read the WSJ ad. “No matter how you choose to work with us, our goal remains the same: provide completely integrated and customized health care that proactively optimizes employee health and reduces corporate costs.”
“In today’s economic climate, saving money on the cost of healthcare services alone is not enough,” stated Hal Rosenbluth, Walgreens SVP and president of the health-and-wellness division. “Employers, managed care organizations and insurers have been seeking more easily understood pricing for prescription drugs and healthcare services for some time now, and Walgreens is delivering on that request.”
Take Care launched its Complete Care and Well-Being employer-based initiative in January, a program that brings to bear Take Care’s corporate clinic and health centers, Walgreens’ pharmacies and Walgreens Health Initiatives, the company’s PBM, all to help alleviate corporate healthcare costs.
Complete Care and Well-Being combines worksite health centers, in-store clinics and pharmacies to a company’s employees, dependents and retirees. In addition, beneficiaries under the plan receive a 15% savings on Walgreens store brand products.
Meanwhile, on the convenient care side, the appeal to consumers, who continue to fear the worst as the rates of the unemployed continue to rise, is unmistakable.
“Losing your job doesn’t have to mean losing your health care,” opens the ad in USAToday.
“Walgreens and Take Care Health Systems will not stand idly by as individuals are forced by the hardships of the economy to choose among basic necessities, such as health care, housing and food,” said president and CEO Greg Wasson.
While it does not cover the cost of a prescription or OTC remedy, it does enable an unemployed/uninsured Take Care customer to seek treatment. “It includes the assessment and diagnosis of the patient,” Lauren Nestler, Take Care spokeswoman, told Drug Store News. “Quest Diagnostics is covering free laboratory testing services for conditions that our nurse practitioners can’t test for at the clinic.”
“[With this program] we think we have the potential to deliver millions [of dollars] in free care,” Nestler said.
Kroger to serve as exclusive supermarket sponsor of Fiesta Atlanta ’09
ATLANTA Kroger will serve as the exclusive supermarket sponsor of Fiesta Atlanta ’09, an outdoor Cinco de Mayo festival celebrating Latino culture, music and food.
Fiesta Atlanta ’09 takes place on Sunday, May 3 at Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta. For Kroger, the partnership represents the company’s commitment to the Hispanic community.
“We are very excited and looking forward to Fiesta Atlanta,” said Glynn Jenkins, director of communications and public relations for Kroger’s Atlanta Division. “Kroger has always made exceptional efforts to serve the Hispanic community and joining this celebration is another commitment to our Hispanic customers.”
Atlanta’s largest Hispanic outdoor family festival, Fiesta Atlanta attracted over 40,000 attendees last year. This year’s event will once again feature authentic food from many Latin-American countries, arts and crafts, sponsor displays with many free product samples and continuous live musical performances by national and local recording artists.
AARP cites big jump in Rx prices
NEW YORK A report by AARP indicated that prices for branded drugs have increased at a rate outpacing the rate of inflation by more than six percentage points.
The report found that manufacturers’ prices for branded drugs increased by 9% last year, compared with the general inflation rate of 3.8%. Meanwhile, prices of generic drugs decreased, on average, by 10.6%.
Generic drugs have already grown significantly over the years, accounting for 69% of all prescriptions dispensed in the United States, but 16% of money spent on prescriptions, according to IMS Health. In 2007, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the average price of a generic prescription drug was $34.34, compared to $119.51 for a branded drug.
Price increases for branded drugs significantly higher than the overall rate of inflation, mixed with the recession, are likely to drive more consumers to generics. According to AARP, nearly a quarter of all older Americans skip medication doses because of the cost, while other studies have shown that many Americans facing economic hardship don’t have prescriptions filled at all.
At the same time, many branded pharmaceutical drugs – not to mention biologics – don’t yet have a generic version. This could create difficulties for elderly and other patients who may be able switch to medications that are cheaper, but different from what they take, or who take biologic drugs or newer drugs that have no equivalent on the market.
The Generic Pharmaceutical Association said the report indicated that generic medicines are “the right choice for better health.”
“During these difficult economic times, it is truly disturbing to hear reports that our nation’s seniors cannot afford their prescription drug costs,” GPhA president and CEO Kathleen Jaeger said in a statement responding to the report. “No one should be forced to choose between putting food on their table and paying for needed medicines.”
Jaeger also said the report illustrated the need for a regulatory pathway for biosimilars.
“It’s time to do right by our seniors and all Americans struggling with healthcare costs by approving legislation that brings safe, effective and affordable biogeneric medicines to patients sooner rather than later,” Jaeger said. “GPhA also strongly believes that increasing funding for FDA would ensure the more timely approval of generic medicines, increasing the opportunity for consumers to save immediately.”