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Patients are sticking to Walgreens because it's elementary


WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — Within the first week of 2012, Walgreens signed 125,000 patients to its Prescription Savings Club. By the second week, that number had blossomed to 200,000 patients and subsequently exploded to 500,000 new signees by the middle of week No. 4. You don't need a math whiz with a degree in economics to chart the direction this is headed. Clearly, as more patients walk up to their pharmacy counter to fill their monthly medications, only to find out they have had a personal stake in the Walgreens/Express Scripts negotiations all along, they are exploring their own means through which they can remain a Walgreens pharmacy patient.

(THE NEWS: Walgreens signs 500,000 and counting to its Prescription Savings Club. For the full story, click here.)

You also don't need a degree in physics to explain why this kind of consumer behavior is contrary to what's supposed to happen. It's Newton's first law of motion: A body in motion tends to stay in motion, and a body not in motion tends to stay put. Now you have significantly more than a half a million patients who have been put into motion, and yet they're staying put.

That only makes sense if what Walgreens is offering is of greater value than going practically next door (if you're listening to what Express Scripts is saying) to a pharmacy that's part of the Express Scripts network.

You can debate what ranks higher in a patient's decision matrix — convenience or value — and whether or not a patient would spend more for perceived convenience or be inconvenienced for perceived value. But you would think that after being told, "Sorry, we don't accept that plan," most consumers would respond: "That's alright. See ya," and then turn around and walk right out of the pharmacy.

But 500,000 (and counting) instead said, "Well that's no good. How do I stay at Walgreens?"

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