Survey: WAG-ESI dispute sends customers to independent pharmacies


WASHINGTON — Many Walgreens customers are "flocking" to independent pharmacies amid the dispute between the retail pharmacy chain and pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts, a trade group representing the PBM industry said.

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association announced results of a survey conducted by North Star Opinion Research, touting the results as evidence of preferred pharmacy networks' benefits to independent retail pharmacies and customers.

According to the survey, 72% of independent pharmacists with a Walgreens store in their areas have seen former Walgreens customers fill prescriptions at their stores, while three-fifths of those with a Walgreens in their area said former customers of the chain were more satisfied with their stores. Meanwhile, independent pharmacists said they had benefited from the Walgreens contract dispute by a 2-to-1 margin, and nearly all said customers had adequate access to pharmacies in their area.

"Since there are now more pharmacies than McDonalds, Burger Kings, Taco Bells, Pizza Huts and Starbucks combined, public and private payers can offer drug benefits that weed out drug stores that overcharge," PCMA president and CEO Mark Merritt said. "That's good news not only for consumers, but for local drug stores."

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