Pharmacists Weigh in on CVS-Target Deal

June 16, 2015

CVS Health's move to acquire Target's pharmacy business for $1.9 billion is a game changer in the pharmacy world.

CVS Health's move to acquire Target’s pharmacy business for $1.9 billion is a game changer in the pharmacy world.

The deal involves more than 1600 pharmacies and 80 clinics, which will continue to be located within Target stores but newly branded as CVS. However, sales from OTC drugs will still be controlled by Target.

This acquisition is expected to be a win-win for both retail giants, but that might not be the case for the pharmacy profession and the patients pharmacists serve.

There are a few outstanding questions:

  • What does this deal mean for the pharmacists and pharmacy technicians employed by Target?
  • Will Target pharmacists seek employment elsewhere or in other areas of pharmacy?
  • Will script counts increase at other retailers?
  • Will CVS honor Target Pharmacy Rewards?
  • Will CVS honor the low-price, $4/month generics?
  • What happens to patient’s freedom of choice for pharmacy options?

After speaking with several of my colleagues, I am not the only one who feels this deal is a bad idea.

“The merge has taken another pharmacy choice away from patients. The monopoly they are slowly forming is dangerous to freedom of choice," independent community pharmacist John Paul Calvillo, PharmD, said. "...We are seeing the creation of a pharmacy monster that is changing the landscape of our profession.”

Clinical pharmacst Stephen Lozano, PharmD, BCACP, echoed those sentiments, stating, “It is a good business move for Target because it gets more people/traffic into their stores, but the CVS model is extremely capitalistic at the expense of patient care."

"...I feel it is a step back for the ultimate goal of community pharmacies, which is optimizing appropriate medication use, patient care, providing quality services and immunizations for the community, promoting public health, and advancing the practice of clinical community pharmacy," Dr. Lozano continued. "Target pharmacists will most likely start looking elsewhere, because Target was a platform that allowed individualized patient care. If they wanted to be pill pushers, they would have signed up for CVS or Walgreens to begin with.”

Trending tweets on the topic include:

  • “I feel really bad for the people I know who left CVS for Target in the hopes of being treated like actual humans and not robots.”
  • “If you work for Target pharmacy, your day just got really bad.”
  • “I left CVS because of long pharmacy lines, lack of staff, and medications not ever ready. Target was awesome.”
  • “Pillpack should merge with Target instead and keep CVS away.”

Target expects the deal to close by the end of the year.