Over 200 Community Leaders and Organizations Across the Nation Urge Express Scripts To Reach Agreement With Walgreens

Jan 17, 2012, 10:00 ET from National Black Chamber of Commerce

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Over 200 organizations, community leaders, health care professionals, and people of faith from urban neighborhoods and inner-cities across the country today urged Express Scripts to get back to the negotiating table with Walgreens and allow the nation's largest pharmacy chain to return to its' network.  As of January 1, Express Scripts stopped providing in-network coverage for prescriptions filled at Walgreens and Duane Reade pharmacies.

More than 130 leaders and organizations urged Express Scripts to come to an agreement before December 31, 2011, in order to avoid patient disruption.  Now that Express Scripts allowed its contract with Walgreens to expire, more than 80 new leaders and groups from across the country have joined the effort, urging the pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) to resume negotiations and come to an agreement.

"We strongly urge Express Scripts to put the people of our communities at the forefront of this issue because prolonging the loss of network access to the critical pharmacy services Walgreens provides will be devastating to our communities," said Harry Alford, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. "Walgreens has been committed to serving urban neighborhoods since its founding 110 years ago and continues to serve communities throughout the United States where quality health care services are scarce.  The fact is actually 63 percent of all Americans, 75 percent of African Americans, and 78 percent of Latinos are living within 3 miles of a Walgreens store."

In a letter to Express Scripts, the group outlined the benefits provided by Walgreens that are no longer available with full network coverage to Express Scripts members as of January 1.

"In many of our neighborhoods, Walgreens serves as a stabilizing influence and has helped draw other businesses into our communities.  Walgreens is a valued community partner," the letter states.  "Walgreens is focused on high-quality affordable and accessible traditional pharmacy services, as well as immunization services, and in some locations... professional walk-in health care centers are located in Walgreens pharmacy stores."

Express Scripts, Inc. is a pharmacy benefit management (PBM) company that administers pharmacy services for health insurance plans and programs such as the U.S. military's health care plan (TRICARE), certain Medicare Part D plans and numerous employer-sponsored plans.  If a consumer's prescription drug benefits are managed, through their health insurance, by Express Scripts, that consumer,using his or her network benefits, may only obtain medications at pharmacies with which Express Scripts has contracts in place. 

Throughout the course of 2011, Express Scripts was unwilling to reach a fair agreement with Walgreens on a contract that would enable the pharmacy chain to remain in its network after December 31, 2011.

SOURCE National Black Chamber of Commerce