Rite Aid To Launch New Pharmacy Benefit Manager
Rite Aid, one of the largest U.S. retail pharmacy chains, on Friday announced formal plans to launch a new pharmacy benefit manager "in a bid to fight growing competition" from mail-order pharmacies, Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal reports. Under the plan, announced earlier this month, Pennsylvania-based Rite Aid will provide PBM services to employers, health plans and health insurers and offer 90-day retail prescriptions at prices comparable to mail-order prescriptions. Rite Aid, which has contracted with Georgia-based ProCare Rx to administer back-office operations for the new PBM, also will provide mail-order services for clients who require them.
Rite Aid President and CEO Mary Sammons earlier this month said that the new PBM "will give us a seat at the table to compete for managed-care plans and protect our market share." She also said that a decision by the United Auto Workers to require health plan members to use a mail-order pharmacy for long-term prescriptions reduced fourth-quarter 2004 sales for Rite Aid. Pembroke Consultant President Adam Fein said, "Rite Aid has realized, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.'" He added that Rite Aid also might have decided to launch the new PBM in preparation for the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2006.
According to government estimates, Medicare in 2006 will account for 28% of U.S. prescription drug spending, compared with about 2% this year (Wisenberg Brin, Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal, 4/27).