Walgreens and Prime Therapeutics Create Specialty Pharma Mail Firm


What the new company will mean for specialty pharmacy.

Combining the resources of central specialty pharmacy and home delivery services, Walgreens and Prime Therapeutics LLC, have launched a new company, AllianceRx Walgreens Prime.

The new entity based in Orlando, FL, will manage consolidated mail service and central pharmacy operations.

The relationship between the two companies includes a collective alignment with more than 25 Blue Cross and Blue Shield clients that connects the health plan to the pharmacy where plan members can receive consultations from a Walgreens pharmacist.

Prime’s pharmacies will be part of the combined company, and Prime will continue its core function of providing pharmacy benefit management services.

Walgreens will continue to operate more than 230 specialty pharmacies in addition to its 8,175 retail pharmacies. Central specialty pharmacy and mail service customers of Walgreens and Prime will be seamlessly transitioned.

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Walgreens’ spokesperson Jim Cohn told DrugTopics that consumers will benefit from the services provided by the new company.

“As consumers’ prescription drug needs continue to change, this alliance is designed to provide cost-saving opportunities for patients, while enabling more Prime members to benefit from Walgreens Omni-channel pharmacy services, which can help improve medication adherence and outcomes,” said Cohn.

Cohn added that the specialty pharmacy space is being driven by a number of market factors, including the specialty drug pipeline, the availability of biosimilars, and the emergence of new orphan drugs that help treat previously untreatable conditions. 

The alliance with Prime, noted Cohn, further demonstrates how stronger collaborations with PBMs and health plans can help pharmacies deliver value, care, and service to their patients and partners.  “We expect that this relationship will help to expand our position in the high-growth specialty pharmacy segment, as well as mail service business, while also adding operational and purchasing efficiencies that are on par with industry leaders,” said Cohn.

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Karen Lyons, spokesperson for Prime Therapeutics, said consumers’ prescription drug needs are frequently changing, and that there is a need to help people obtain their prescriptions affordably. “Through our retail network agreement and our new combined mail service and central specialty pharmacy company, AllianceRx Prime Walgreens, Prime members will see saving opportunities, convenient services, and greater care coordination,” said Lyons.

The new model created by Prime and Walgreens, “is significantly different and disruptive than what previously existed in the market” because it aligns three pillars in health care: a leading PBM (Prime), health plans/payers (Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plan owners), and a national retail pharmacy (Walgreens), Lyons said.

By bringing these well-known companies together, the new model can help improve outcomes, deliver cost of care opportunities, and allow for further efficiencies and care coordination, Lyons said. “We’re confident that our current and future

Perry Cohen, PharmDclients will see the benefit of this strategic alliance with Walgreens, and we are well on our way to becoming a top three PBM.”

Industry experts contend that the Walgreens/Prime alliance can benefit patients if Prime Therapeutics members receive superior pharmacy services from Walgreens.

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“This alliance can also lead to lower costs by getting the best of both companies’ abilities to manage drug costs,” said Perry Cohen, PharmD, CEO of The Pharmacy Group, Glastonbury, CT. He added that the alliance also positions both companies to more effectively manage the delivery and financing of specialty pharmaceuticals.

Fred J. Pane, RPh, a Charlotte, NC-based consultant specializing in pharmacy practice, said that the number one outcome of this type of merger should be to improve patient outcomes, lower overall cost of care, improve patient satisfaction, and create a less complex patient-care-delivery model. “It needs to be measured and shared with the beneficiaries/patients who pay the premiums and co-pays,” said Pane. 

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