Walgreen Expecting Sharp Drop In Prescription Business
A contract dispute with pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts is likely to cut the number of drugs Walgreen will sell.
The New York Times: Walgreen Facing Big Loss In Fight With Express Scripts
The historically steady growth of the Walgreen Company's business of filling prescriptions is likely to drop off sharply next year, as the pharmacy giant faces the imminent loss of millions of customers who use the pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts. Express Scripts and Walgreen have been battling over payment issues for months. Walgreen said Wednesday that it has been unsuccessful at getting most of its customers who have their drug coverage managed by Express Scripts to switch to another pharmacy benefit manager, or P.B.M. (Japsen, 12/21).
Chicago Tribune: Walgreen Shedding Express Scripts
Unable to reach a deal with pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts by year's end, Walgreen Co. President and CEO Greg Wasson told investors Wednesday, "We're locked and loaded, and we're moving on." Walgreen, the largest U.S. drugstore chain, has been battling with Express Scripts since June 21, when Walgreen said the companies could not agree on terms for a new contract (Wernau, 12/22).
The Wall Street Journal: Walgreen Profit Falls 4.5% on Higher Costs
A Walgreen exit from Express Scripts' network would mean the benefit manager's clients would have to go elsewhere to fill prescriptions. However, based on current estimates and the assumption that it won't be in the Express Scripts network in 2012, Walgreen said it expects to achieve 97% to 99% of its fiscal 2011 prescription volume (Kell, 12/21).
The Associated Press: Walgreen 1Q Profit Drops On Express Scripts Fight
Walgreen's first-quarter earnings fell more than 4 percent due in part to a slow flu season and its impending split from the Express Scripts pharmacy network, a multibillion-dollar dispute that looks no closer to resolution in the final days of the year. ... Express Scripts clients include WellPoint Inc., which is the largest U.S. health insurer based on membership, and TriCare, the health plan that serves military members and their families (Seaman, 12/21).
In other news about the pharmaceutical industry:
The Associated Press: SC Judge Upholds $327M Verdict For J&J Marketing
A South Carolina judge has upheld a $327 million civil penalty against health giant Johnson & Johnson, which in March was found guilty by a jury of overstating the safety and effectiveness of its former blockbuster antipsychotic drug, Risperdal. Attorneys for the state said Wednesday that it's the biggest verdict in the country over the marketing of Risperdal. The pill for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder once brought J&J more than $3.4 billion in annual sales (Johnson, 12/21).
Bloomberg: Merck Lowers Price Of Isentress Drug For State AIDS Programs
Merck & Co. (MRK) reduced the price of AIDS drug Isentress for U.S. state programs that provide antiviral medicines to lower-income people who have limited or no insurance…. Merck is the sixth drug company to provide additional discounts for state AIDS programs in recent months, said Murray Penner, deputy executive director for the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, a nonprofit group in Washington. While the state AIDS drug assistance programs serve 200,000 people, as of Dec. 15 there were 4,333 people in 12 states on waiting lists who qualify, yet haven’t received assistance because of budget limitations, he said (Langreth, 12/21).