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Are you affected by the CVS Walgreen’s fight?

June 15, 2010

Update- Blue Cross estimates the clash between CVS and Walgreen’s will affect 24,000 of its members.  Around 23,000 will lose their ability to buy medications at Walgreen’s on July 9th and 1,000 are medicare recipients who will notice the change at the beginning of next year.

Blue Cross is asking CVS to send a letter to every member that currently use Walgreen’s with a list of the three closest non Walgreen’s  pharmacies. Regardless of whether CVS is the closest pharmacy, it will be listed as the last option, so it doesn’t appear that CVS  is getting special treatment. The letters should go out within the next week.

A spokeswoman for Blue Cross says it’s an issue the health plan is watching closely.

The Wall Street Journal says Walgreen’s might be able to honor some prescription plans after July9th.


If you have Blue Cross Blue Shield for your health insurance, and you buy your prescriptions at a Walgreen’s pharmacy, you’ll have to go somewhere else starting July 9th.

Why? Walgreens and CVS/Caremark got into a fight.

A little background- CVS/Caremark isn’t just a chain of pharmacies.  The Caremark side manages prescription drug plans.  It’s what people in the industry call a Pharmacy Benefits Management (PBM.)

So, for example, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBSRI) uses Caremark to process and pay for all of the medications for  its members.  Caremark also updates which drugs BCBSRI will and won’t pay for.

The problems came when CVS and Caremark merged. The National Community Pharmacists Association has been complaining for a long time that the two working together was a conflict of interest.  They say Caremark started to make it more attractive for members to fill their prescriptions at CVS than at other pharmacies.

It seems Walgreen’s has a similar complaint. Last week it announced it won’t be renewing any of its plans with Caremark or accepting any new plans either.  Walgreen’s said Caremark was forcing patients with chronic conditions to get their drugs through the mail from CVS.  It also said it’s not being reimbursed enough for some medications.

CVS/Caremark responded by pulling the plug on the Caremark plans at Walgreen’s before they could expire.  On June 9th, they gave patients 30 days to find a new pharmacist.

There have been some mumblings that CVS/Caremark and Walgreens might make up.  But if they don’t, some Blue Cross Blue Shield members will be looking for a new pharmacy.

Does this change affect you?  Let me know.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 15, 2010 5:40 pm

    Ah, this is capitalism at its finest. Walgreens has like 700 million in debt and CVS is applying the squeeze.

    CVS is going to buy Walgreens one day, maybe within 2-3 years. Why pay full price?

    CVS’s decision to squeeze Walgreens is inline with its long-term plan to buy Walgreens on the cheap, buying as little as 13 or 12 cents to the dollar.

    Walgreens is too far behind CVS and all it can do is ask our government for intervention.

    It’s a WIN for CVS shareholders, CVS employees, the State of Rhode Island’s economy (e.g. jobs) and for our government. When people buy drugs through the mail the cost savings is realized by our government, who foots most of the bill anyways.

    CVS is in the position it is in today because of the business plan set in moment over a decade ago.

    Am I affected by the cat fight? Sure, everyone is indirectly.

    Medco recently asked me to switch to mail order prescriptions from CVS…. the cost saves was over 50%. You bet I took it, too~! :}

    Film at 11

    (do we say Film at 11 in blogs).

    Crazy Richard

    ~ P.S. Congrats to WRNI’s staff on its AP Awards.
    “Winning five AP awards for the first time in its history was Rhode Island public radio station WRNI-AM 1290, the state’s National Public Radio affiliate. As recently as four years ago, the station had no reporters at all, and now it has five, said Joe O’Connor, WRNI’s general manager.”

  2. Darlene Price permalink
    February 14, 2013 9:57 am

    It already has started,I went Monday to pick up my meds at Walgreens and was told Bc/Bs wouldn’t pay for it. Called customer service,said I had to use CVS I told them I didn’t like CVS and I thought it was a free country. I will go back to Walgeens savings club and go where I the meds end up cheaper a lot of the


  1. CVS/Caremark and Walgreen’s fight is over « The Pulse: health care in RI

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