The trend among employers to require mail-order fulfillment of drug prescriptions
has led to a falling out between General Motors Corp. and Walgreen Co.
GM, as the largest private provider of health care insurance in the United
States, announced Friday that it was dropping Walgreen, the largest drug store
chain in the U.S., from its list of approved prescription drug providers.
At the center of the break-up is the automaker's requirement that some drugs
for chronic disorders be filled by mail order, according to the Reuters news
Employers and their pharmacy benefit managers increasingly require the use
of mail services to cut costs. Retail pharmacies don't like it because it's
much less lucrative than in-person prescription fulfillment.
Last year, Walgreen adopted a policy of not accepting mandatory mail programs
to fill prescription drug orders for chronic conditions. GM, fearing that Walgreen
would drop it as a client and leave the automaker scrambling to find other providers,
decided to beat Walgreen to the punch, according to GM's pharmacy benefits manager,
Medco Health Solutions Inc.
"Because of the way Walgreen's has acted in their public announcement
that are very antagonistic toward clients that have a mail-order component in
the PBM program, it has raised the anxiety level among some clients," said
Jeff Simek, a spokesman for Medco.
But Michael Polzin, a spokesman for Walgreen, said his company's ban on madatory
mail programs concerned new contracts onlys and did not affect existing clients
such as GM.
"We're going to try to talk directly with GM to let them know some things
that their PBM (Medco) is not telling them," Polzin said.
GM provides health care coverage for 1.1 million workers, retirees and their
families in the United States, according to Reuters. Last year, GM spent $5.2
billion on health care in the United States, including $1.5 billion on prescription