Walmart leaving CVS pharmacy network, industry officials say

Walmart leaving CVS pharmacy network, industry officials say
A Walmart Supercenter is shown Friday, Nov. 9, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) (Source: David J. Phillip)

LITTLE ROCK, AR (KAIT) - A decision by one of the nation’s largest retailers to leave a pharmacy network could create major problems for people attempting to have prescriptions filled, industry officials said Wednesday.

According to a media release from the Arkansas Pharmacists Association, CVS Health announced Jan. 15 that Walmart intends to leave the CVS Caremark pharmacy benefit management commercial and managed Medicaid retail pharmacy networks due to a pricing dispute.

The dispute has been ongoing, officials say, noting the issue could create other problems.

“Patients with CVS-administered drug benefits (including Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield) and Medicaid enrollees with CVS drug coverage may no longer be able to have their prescriptions filled at Walmart stores if the retailer follows through with the announcement,” the media release noted.

The group’s chief operations officer, John Vinson, said the issue has been a continual debate in the state of Arkansas, with local pharmacies seeing the issue first-hand.

“It’s no surprise to Arkansas pharmacists how PBM’s operate, but last year, patients got their first look behind the curtain of the pharmacy benefits management industry when many of them weren’t able to use their pharmacist of choice because PBM’s weren’t paying a fair price. Now, the world’s largest retailer is leaving the CVS network because of the challenges that Arkansas pharmacies have been facing for years.”

State lawmakers had a special session in 2018 to approve legislation, requiring the groups to be licensed in the state.

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