PHARMACY

Walgreens to stop accepting new Washington Medicaid patients in April

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. The battle between Walgreens and the state of Washington over Medicaid presciptions is far from over.

The drug store chain announced that it is ceasing the acceptance of new Washington Medicaid patients effective April 16. This marks another battle in the long war between the two, in which Walgreens has threatened to stop filling Medicaid prescriptions in the Evergreen State altogether. Walgreens, which operates 121 pharmacies in Washington, originally planned to stop filling Medicaid prescriptions in February at 64 of its stores across the state because of continued reduction in reimbursement under the state’s program. That decision was delayed while negotiations continued over the last month.

Under its current pharmacy payment structure, Washington Medicaid is reimbursing Walgreens below its cost to break even on nearly 95% of brand name medications dispensed to Medicaid patients, Walgreens said.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed that the alternatives we’ve suggested have failed to achieve a compromise,” said Kermit Crawford, Walgreens EVP pharmacy. “We intend to continue our commitment to serving our existing patients, but we simply can not take on additional losses. As we seek to find a solution, we remain hopeful that our continued work with the State Department of Social and Health Services will ultimately result in maintaining access to quality pharmacy care for those most in need.”

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PHARMACY

Students celebrate Rx Day

BY DSN STAFF

OLYMPIA, Wash. —Students from the schools of pharmacy at the University of Washington, in Seattle, and Washington State University, in Pullman, Wash., converged on the Washington state capitol in Olympia to mark the annual Pharmacy Day on Feb. 9. Students and pharmacists met with state legislators and offered them and their staff free health screenings.

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Health Mart hits critical mass

BY DSN STAFF

SAN FRANCISCO —Chances are good that there’s a Health Mart in your community. Some four years after its reinvention as a cutting-edge, market-savvy pharmacy franchiser by owner McKesson, the hard-driving independent drug store network now operates in all 50 states and comprises one of the largest and fastest-growing pharmacy brands in America. With guidance from McKesson VP and Health Mart president Tim Canning, and a team of experienced marketing and merchandising hands, Health Mart has come a long way from its days as a dormant, 300-store remnant of the old FoxMeyer wholesale drug network purchased by McKesson in the early 1990s.

In January, Health Mart surged past another milestone when Trudell Health Mart Pharmacy in Dearborn, Mich., became the 2,500th independent pharmacy to join the franchise. That marks an 850% jump in store count over the past four years, according to McKesson.

“We joined Health Mart to take advantage of the innovative marketing, operational and patient care programs available. Then we found out we were the 2,500th pharmacy to go blue and green, which is exciting because we just celebrated 80 years of serving the community,” said Trudell owner Tom Fakih.

Among the reasons Trudell joined the franchise, Fakih said, were “new services and programs that help us better care for, educate and inform our patients,” including Health Mart’s recent “Health Across America” campaign to test people for diabetes risk.

To maintain its growth momentum, Health Mart has begun leveraging its national scale and reach. Early this year, the chain launched a national TV ad campaign tied to such major events as the Super Bowl, the Winter Olympic Games and the Academy Awards.

“Being ranked highest in customer satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates, coupled with our growth to 2,500 pharmacies, is a further demonstration of Health Mart’s commitment to the local Health Mart pharmacists,” Canning said.

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