Express Scripts, expanding PBM reach, agrees to buy WellPoint’s NextRx unit
NEW YORK And then there were three.
With the decision by insurance giant Wellpoint to get out of the business of managing and coordinating pharmacy benefits for some 25 million of its members, the field of battle among the competing pharmacy benefit management firms will soon narrow. If the deal is approved, three large-scale players – CVS Caremark, Express Scripts and Medco Health – will control the pharmacy use patterns of well over 100 million Americans and account for more than 2 billion prescriptions dispensed annually in the Untied States.
The deal to buy Wellpoint’s PBM business, the nation’s fourth-largest, marks something of a vindication for Express Scripts, which lost a battle for control of Caremark to CVS two years ago. If successful in its bid – the deal must still pass muster with federal antitrust regulators – Express Scripts could add as many as 25 million patients to its PBM rolls and boost its managed prescription business by half, to some 750 million scripts dispensed annually by its pharmacy network.
Express Scripts chairman and CEO George Paz made it clear the company’s focus going forward would be to streamline pharmacy benefits and cut costs – both for Express Scripts and for its corporate clients who pay the prescription bills – by trying to shift more plan members to generics. Those cost-cutting efforts are also likely to spur more preventive-health programs and pharmacy interventions for the patients Express Scripts covers.
“Now more than ever, as the nation focuses on health care reform, this collaboration between Express Scripts and WellPoint represents a shared commitment to achieving optimal health outcomes while driving out wasteful spending,” said Paz in a written statement.
Citing the nation’s financial crisis, the leader of the nation’s largest PBM underscored the urgent need within the managed care industry to cut costs and boost preventive-care efforts on behalf of employers earlier this month.
“The current economic environment has understandably created a sense of urgency for companies to evaluate their benefit designs in order to meet financial goals, with 74 percent of our employer clients telling us that reducing overall health costs is their number one measure of success in the coming year,” said CVS Caremark chairman, president and CEO Tom Ryan. “Furthermore, our research indicates that our clients are looking to CVS Caremark to help them accomplish these savings by increasing plan participant engagement in their health care rather than simply increasing their share of the cost.”
Thrive Allergy Expo kicks off in Chicago
CHICAGO The Thrive Allergy Expo will be kicking off its inaugural consumer expo this weekend, April 18 and 19, at the McCormick Place, providing consumers education and samples around a number of allergy-related conditions.
Thrive will present speakers across two platforms — the Healthy Living Forum and Marketplace Forum.
At the Healthy Living Forum, the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, American Lung Association, Children’s Memorial Hospital: Food Allergy Study, MedicAlert, University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center and the Gluten Intolerance Group will speak on both days of the event. Discussion topics and presentations include asthma, eczema, food allergies, Celiac Disease and precautions and avoidance tips to increase allergy safety.
At the Marketplace Forum speakers include Twinject, the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immnology, AllergyZone, Gluten Intolerance Group, Lisa Cooks Allergen Free, Merchant du Vin, and authors Jules Shepard and Kim Koeller. Anaphylaxis, indoor air quality, evolution of gluten-free beer, how to keep a gluten-free kitchen and how to safely eat out with food allergies and Celiac Disease are some of the topics that will be addressed at this Forum.
RediClinic offers three allergy-testing packages to patients
HOUSTON Looking to help those Americans suffering from seasonal allergies, retail-based clinic operator RediClinic is positioning itself as a convenient and affordable destination for allergy care.
“For many sufferers, seasonal allergies are a minor annoyance, but for others they can be a cause for great concern,” stated Web Golinkin, CEO of RediClinic. “RediClinic is the perfect destination for anyone experiencing allergy symptoms, from a runny nose and itchy eyes to shortness of breath and headaches. All 21 of our locations in the greater Houston and Austin areas offer a wide variety of testing and treatment options, including steroid injections when they are medically appropriate.”
The clinic operator offers patients three allergy testing package options.
The basic package, priced at $69, tests for 12 common allergens, plus regional environmental and food allergens. The choice package, which costs $129, tests an additional 90 allergens. The premier package, priced at $189, tests 135 additional allergens. Once an allergen is identified, clinicians will interpret test results and discuss treatment options.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, 1-in-7 Americans suffer from seasonal allergies.