CVS Takes A Stand on Patient Choice in Pharmacy Delivery System

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

WOONSOCKET, R.I.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 18, 2005-- CVS/pharmacy (NYSE: CVS), America's #1 retail pharmacy will voluntarily exit the pharmacy network established to service Ohio state employees as of April 18, 2005.

The state of Ohio plan, administered by Express Scripts Inc., requires its members to use Express Script's own mail service facility after a maintenance prescription is filled two times at a community pharmacy. If the patient chooses to subsequently refill a prescription at a retail pharmacy, the insurance program will not provide coverage. CVS reached its decision to no longer participate in this plan after efforts to negotiate a plan modification with Express Scripts that would permit customers to fill 90-day maintenance medication prescriptions at retail stores were unsuccessful.

In January 2004, CVS announced that it would not participate in new prescription benefit programs that mandate filling chronic prescriptions through a mail order service facility. CVS wants to ensure patients have the choice of filling these long-term maintenance medications at either their local community pharmacy or through a mail service pharmacy.

"The primary issue here is patient choice. Consumers should not be subject to plan designs that force them to forfeit choice and their access to a community pharmacist who they value and trust," said Eileen Howard Dunn, Vice President of Corporate Communications and Community Relations at CVS/pharmacy. "We are not opposed to dispensing medications via the mail. In fact, through our PharmaCare subsidiary, CVS operates one of the largest mail order pharmacies in the country. What we do oppose are prescription plans that severely limit patients' ability to choose their preferred channel of delivery. "

"We sincerely regret any disruption this may cause our customers on the State of Ohio Employee plan," Howard Dunn added. "However, we feel strongly that plans like this one are not in our patients' best interest, as they lose the option to access personal interaction and counseling from a community pharmacist. Our goal is to ensure that patients have access to any channel they prefer at any point in time."