- UnitedHealth Group's pharmacy benefit manager OptumRx signed a new distribution agreement with the pharmacy giant Walgreens. Under the deal, Walgreens will fill 90-day prescriptions for OptumRx at mail-delivery prices, effective January 1, 2017.
- Walgreens has 8,200 pharmacies and is the largest drug chain in the U.S.
- OptumRx joins CVS Health and Express Scripts as PBMs with strong pharmacy-distribution arms as part of their overall business model.
OptumRx CEO Mark Thierer said that he expects the relationship to also extend to the point that the companies can jointly leverage Optum Rx's data and other assets, as quoted by Reuters. These include care-delivery assets as well as urgent care and behavioral health services. He also noted that a PBM does not have to own pharmacies in order to grow.
The Eden Prairie, MN-based Optum Rx manages more than one billion prescriptions with a total pharmacy spend of $74 billion.
The news should strengthen Optum's position after it suffered the defection of the health insurer WellCare Health Plans in January. WellCare, which has roughly 3.8 million members, switched to CVS Health from Optum for managing its prescription benefits.