Express Script-Medco Merger: The Beginning of the End?

Most of the things that pharmacists are told will be devastating for the profession end up having limited impact. Will that hold true for the proposed merger?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal talked about the impasse between Walgreens and Express Scripts. Unless something changes, Walgreens will be out of the network at the end of this year. That story was followed up by a full page ad in the same newspaper last Friday sponsored by CatalystRx promoting the value that Walgreens brings to their network. The company based this ad on a case study they released that highlights the value “Walgreens provides to a large Catalyst Rx client representing more than 200,000 members.”

Why are these stories and ads appearing now? Does it have something to do with the Express Scripts-Medco merger? With almost unanimous support, the profession of pharmacy has come out against this merger, feeling as if it might give too much power to this one PBM.

In his blog, Drug Channels, Adam Fein suggested “mid-market PBMs such as CatalystRx or SXC’s InformedRx will benefit if Express Scripts is successful in its merger with Medco Health Solutions.” Perhaps what we are seeing is CatalystRx positioning to take advantage of the merger.

I guess one of the few things I’ve learned in my 50 years as a pharmacist is that most of the things that we are told will be devastating for our profession end up having limited impact. In fact, they often help create professional advancement as people/organizations reposition themselves to compete with the change.

Do you think that if the Express Scripts-Medco merger goes through it’s the beginning of the end for pharmacy—or will it help catapult us to new opportunities?