More than a quarter of a million U.S. military personnel, family
members, retirees and others in the Department of Defense Tricare
pharmacy benefits program, and their supporters, so far have signed
petitions demanding access to Walgreens (NYSE: WAG)(NASDAQ: WAG)
pharmacies under the Tricare pharmacy program. The pace of petition
signatures from Tricare members seeking to retain access to Walgreens
and their supporters has reached more than 10,000 per week in recent
Walgreens said the refusal by Express Scripts, Inc. (NASDAQ: ESRX), the
pharmacy benefit manager for Tricare, to separate the Tricare business
from its other business disputes with Walgreens suggests a willingness
to sacrifice the needs of Tricare beneficiaries, an action especially
surprising in light of the outpouring of support from U.S. military
families for continued access to Walgreen pharmacies.
Meanwhile, Walgreens has repeatedly offered to remain in the Tricare
pharmacy network through proposals to Express Scripts that are designed
to prevent disruption to military personnel, families and retirees.
These proposals would protect Tricare member choice of Walgreens and
provide savings to the program and taxpayers. Specifically, Walgreens
Offered to negotiate the Tricare renewal separately from Express
Scripts' commercial business in order to continue to provide Walgreens
services on an uninterrupted basis to all active and retired military
Offered to lower Tricare reimbursement rates across the board
resulting in double-digit million dollar savings to the U.S. military
and taxpayers over the next few years.
Provided an ironclad guarantee that Walgreens prices would match or
beat the average costs per adjusted prescription of all other retail
pharmacies in the Tricare network. Those costs would be compared on an
apples-to-apples basis and verified by an objective third party each
quarter. Walgreens also committed to reimbursing Tricare for any
overage following the end of each quarterly review.
"The last thing military personnel, families and retirees need is for
their pharmacy benefits and choices to be disrupted by this issue," said
Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness
solutions and services. "Walgreens proposals to protect Tricare members
remain on the table. There is no reason the parties cannot act quickly –
before the Dec.