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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Clash of the Titans

In case you have been hiding in a bomb shelter for the last few months you missed the announcement that Walgreen's was not going to renew its contract with Express Scripts for prescription processing at the end of 2011. They have already dropped E.S. employee rx processing and are ready to give the rest of them the old "heave ho".

Why would a pharmacy business give up a ton of customers, including all military rx insured? Due to craptacularly low reimbursement rates from the processor (ie E.S.). Why lose a sh*tload of money if you don't have to. This is not the first time Walgreen's has gone toe to toe with an rx insurance provider. There have been many instances in the past with different state medicaid programs and other rx processors in which Walgreen's just said "No". Quite frankly I don't blame them one bit.

I say f*ck you Wal-Mart (and Sam's Club) with your $4 rx (and no charge to mail it to your house), and a smaller f*ck you to Target for jumping on the $4 band wagon (No hard feelings Target I still love you, it's just a matter of principle.) Oh yeah, I didn't forget you Costco, f*ck you too with $6 prescriptions and a "you don't have to be a member to use the pharmacy" policy, and a special lick my twat to all the grocery store pharmacies with the list of free antibiotics, and to any other rx chain that has such equally bastardizing low ball tactics to get business.

This pricing bullsh*t is what makes insurance providers believe they are entitled to craptacularly low reimbursement rates because if we can fill over 300 drugs for $4 then we must not really need AWP (average wholesale price) + a finger in your ass for reimbursement, which is the industry standard right now. This means we will get less than AWP and not even the uncomfortable "how you durin" of a finger in the ass for employee hours, supplies, drugs, utilities, patient counseling, vaccinations, etc. You know who gets the really short end of the stick? Independent pharmacies that are subjected to the same craptacular reimbursement rates with a much higher drug acquisition cost. Even being in a buying co-op isn't gonna save most of them.

As a "f*ck you" return serve to Walgreen's, Express Scripts is trying to buy Medco, which is another huge rx benefit provider. E.S. states that they will "save money by being a bigger company" but we all know they just want to bend Walgreen's over to get them to take the craptacularly low reimbursement rates and the rest of the retail pharmacies will have to bend over and take it too. This is a bitter pill to swallow indeed. The only hope is that the Federal Trade Commission prevents the buy because E.S. will then control about 40% of the prescription market and will have way too much control over the industry.

If the FTC does as wonderful a job as the Congressional budget fix then the pseudo-comfortable "we can make a few bucks and keep the lights on" days of retail pharmacy will be at an end. The new dawn will bring obliteration of what was once a landscape of semi-prosperous independent pharmacies to a place where only chain retail pharmacies remain. Just one more American dream shat upon by the greed of others. Go Team!