PHARMACY

@Walgreens: ‘It’s time to take a stand against @ExpressScripts’

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Walgreens on Thursday took its failed negotiations with Express Scripts to Twitter, paying the social media site to promote the hashtag #ILoveWalgreens and setting off a barrage of tweets by tweeting "It’s time to take a stand against @ExpressScripts. Tell them people want a choice by tweeting hashtag #ILoveWalgreens."

Walgreens paid the social network to promote that first tweet, making it show up in feeds of all Twitter users, even those who don’t follow the pharmacy online. According to Twitter, Walgreens tweeted 126 times on Thursday. And according to Walgreens, the response was overwhelming — "tens of thousands" tweeted the #ILoveWalgreens hashtag with the ratio of positive-to-Walgreens tweets outweighing the negative by 12-to-1. "It accomplished what we wanted it to," Michael Polzin, Walgreens spokesman, told Drug Store News. "We wanted to give our customers a forum for voicing how they feel about Walgreens, and how they’ve been impacted by having to change pharmacies as a result of Express Scripts’ stance."

Express Scripts countered the barrage of tweets with a series of six "facts" communicating that people still have choice with the 56,000 pharmacies remaining in the pharmacy benefit manager’s network. Express Scripts in one tweet asserted that "Walgreens’ proposed rates/terms would make them the most expensive pharmacy in our network."

During Walgreens’ annual shareholder meeting Wednesday, Walgreens CFO Wade Miquelon pointed to a slide showing that Express Scripts’ proposed reimbursement rates were not only a significant cut from what they’ve reimbursed in the past, but also a significant reduction as compared to the average industry cost of adjudicating a prescription, a fact that would have Walgreens operating at a loss when serving Express Scripts customers.

According to company officials, more than 200,000 of Walgreens’ patients have signed on for the chain’s prescription drug savings program from the beginning of the year through the shareholders meeting, marking a record sign-up rate. "The ball is in [Express Scripts’] court," Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness services and solutions, told reporters immediately following the shareholders meeting. Walgreens had made a second offer to Express Scripts in December in an attempt to reinitiate negotiations, but that offer had been rejected.

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M.UPSHAW says:
Jan-16-2012 12:19 pm

As a customer and pharmacist by education my former employer chose X-Scripts to handle our RXs and only through mail order. It was the most horrible experience I have even had with a major company. Their organization was unbelievablely disorganized; one department didn't have a clue about what was going on in another. Also, constant phone calls to get me to switch to a cheaper drug even though the one recommended had a drug action warning with another drug I was taking. Fortunately there were so many complaints our company changed to CVS where we could use the local stores. MDU

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FTC ends investigation of CVS Caremark

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark announced on Thursday that the Federal Trade Commission has concluded its investigation into the company’s business practices.

The investigation has resulted in CVS Caremark entering into a consent order that relates to certain business practices of a subsidiary of Longs Drug Stores, which took place prior to the acquisition of Longs by CVS Caremark in October 2008.  There were no allegations of antitrust law violations or anticompetitive behavior related to CVS Caremark’s business practices or its products or service offerings. In addition, the company has received a formal letter from the FTC closing all other aspects of the investigation.



Pursuant to the consent order, CVS Caremark will deposit $5 million into a fund that will be used to compensate consumers who purchased coverage for the 2008 plan year from a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan sponsored by Rx America, a subsidiary of Longs. The fund is being established as a result of Rx America inadvertently posting on a website maintained by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services inaccurate pricing information for certain generic drugs. In addition, CVS Caremark agreed on a go forward basis to refrain from making any misrepresentations regarding drug pricing information relating to affiliate sponsored Medicare Part D plans. The consent order will be published in the Federal Register and is subject to comment for 30 days.


”CVS Caremark is pleased to have reached an agreement with the FTC that ends the investigation and enables us to continue our focus on offering unique, innovative products and services that differentiate us and benefit consumers,” stated Larry Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark. “We remain committed to delivering the best possible pharmacy care by driving down healthcare costs, expanding consumer access and improving healthcare outcomes.”

“During the course of this two-year investigation, our company cooperated fully with the FTC and provided to the government millions of documents as well as access to numerous members of our management team who participated in voluntary interviews and depositions,” stated Douglas Sgarro, EVP and chief legal officer of CVS Caremark. “It is important to note that, at the conclusion of this comprehensive investigation, the FTC made no allegations of antitrust law violations or anticompetitive behavior associated with any of our business practices, products or service offerings.”


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Octapharma USA hires former Baxter BioScience executive

BY Alaric DeArment

HOBOKEN, N.J. — Drug maker Octapharma USA has appointed David Holliday as VP commercial development, the company said.

Octapharma USA, the U.S. subsidiary of Swiss drug maker Octapharma AG, said Holliday will be responsible for U.S. product marketing, sales, commercial activities and coordination with global portfolio development initiatives. The company manufactures drugs, such as the immune deficiency treatment Octagam (immune globulin intravenous [human] 5%) and the Von Willebrand disease treatment Wilate (Von Willebrand factor and coagulation factor VIII complex [human]).

Holliday most recently served as VP global marketing operations and hemophilia for Baxter BioScience and has more than 24 years of industry leadership experience, Octapharma said.


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