Largest US pharma benefits manager may seek alcohol/tobacco-free network
- Express Scripts has watched the actions of another large pharmacy benefits manager (PBM), CVS Caremark, very carefully. Caremark is creating a network of tobacco-free pharmacies. Customers who fill prescriptions at pharmacies with tobacco will pay a co-pay, which could help offset the $2 billion loss in revenues from ditching tobacco products.
- The decision to adopt a "no-sin" policy is based on consulting with various retail pharmacies, according to Caremark. Express Scripts is undergoing a similar polling process.
- If Express Scripts moves forward with this still-nascent plan, it could help neutralize Caremark's newest competitive advantage.
It was big news when 7,700 CVS Pharmacy locations stopped carrying alcohol and tobacco. At face value, not providing alcohol and tobacco to customers could provide a small health benefit. However, while there is interest at the consumer-pharmacy level of creating a "no-sin" pharmacy network, the results could be mixed, as WSJ's Ed Silverman notes.
For example, if non-smokers and non-drinkers end up filling a prescription at a pharmacy that happens to carry alcohol or tobacco, they may face a co-pay, despite the fact that they are not participating in "vice" purchasing. It is still too early to tell how this policy would affect overall purchasing trends, but because of the sheer size of the PBMs in question, customers would most likely have to pay the co-pay or shop at designated, sin-free pharmacies.