Thursday, June 04, 2009

Walgreens: Baking the Cake and Eating It Too

Why sustainable, affordable health care will not be feasible: when the CEO of Walgreens says stuff like this:
With more than 25,000 pharmacists at Walgreens stores alone, the chief executive of the nation's largest pharmacy chain sees his company's efforts go beyond just filling prescriptions as part of a solution he calls medication therapy management.

By helping patients stick to taking their medications and making better and more cost-effective choices, Wasson believes the country's pharmacists could help save billions of dollars in medical-care costs. That money could be used to provide benefits to more people.
But how to do this?
To make medication therapy management work, Wasson said, pharmacies would need to be paid more (my emphasis). Drugstores have long complained about the fees they are paid to dispense drugs, typically from $2 to $4 per dispensed prescription; Walgreens says costs are more than $10 per prescription.

Payments to pharmacies also would need to include the time to provide patient consultations, plus wellness advice and other tips.
"Wellness advice?" Everyone knows that Walgreens gets plenty of money from their convenience store model (pick up other goodies when you get your prescription).

Any health reform proposal asking to increase costs now in hopes of saving money later should be summarily shot down in these days of irrational health care reform spending exhubernance. (I have to wonder if the sudden added cost of prescriptions might be from their "buggy" e-prescribing system, but I digress.) The real question: where's the money going to come from for his "medication therapy management?"

Oh, I forgot, probably the Chinese.



Craig said...

Want some "wellness advice?" Stop selling candy bars next to the diabetic supplies, and leave the potato chips and fried pork rinds off the shelves so I don't grab them on my way to pay for my diuretics and statins. But pharmacies/drug store chains don't make their money off of "well" people, do they?

Marco said...

I've found Walgreens' prescription drug prices to very high. My experience with the same generic was $4 at WalMart, $5-6 at Costco, and $ 13 at Walgreens.


Anonymous said...

The best thing Walgreen's can do is focus on preventing medication errors. They have been sued many times for this, and my family has personally experienced three errors. One was the wrong does of synthroid, another the wrong antibiotic and the final one (that finalized our decision to never use them again) was a prescription for Ativan when Levaquin had been prescribed. The latter wasn't even filled out for my husband. It came in a clearly marked bag and bottle for a gentleman with a different name and address!

Anonymous said...

WAG would have a lot more credibility IMHO if they got rid of all the non-medical crap out of their junk-ridden stores. But, the pharmacist blogs report that WAG is getting rid of pharmacists in favor of a central fill system ("POWER"). So, how do you do MTM effectively when there's only one RPh in a store? Webcasting is my guess...Is BCBS going to pick up the "Go to Meeting" or WebEx tab?