News & Commentary

CVS To Dominate Pharmacy Networks

It doesn’t get much more saturated than this: 99.9% of Medicare Part D beneficiaries are enrolled in prescription drug plans with preferred pharmacy networks, according to pharmacy markets expert Adam J. Fein of Pembroke Consulting. Fein writes on his pharma blog, Drug Channels, that “as long as pharmacies accept lower reimbursements in exchange for increasing or maintaining store traffic, preferred networks will continue to dominate the marketplace.”

The winners among the Part D preferred pharmacy networks are willing to trade lower prescription profit margins for larger market share.

Walmart and Walgreens still dominate the market of Part D plans with preferred pharmacy networks, but CVS is catching up.

CVS pharmacies are preferred in plans that enrolled 8.5 million people in 2018, compared with fewer than 300,000 people enrolled in CVS retail pharmacies in 2017.

That puts it just behind Walgreens, which has 8.7 million people signed up for its preferred pharmacy network. Walmart still leads, with 11.5 million people enrolled in its plans.

Then, there is what Fein refers to as “poor Rite Aid,” which is playing a “losing hand.”

“For 2018, it is preferred only in the plan sponsored by EnvisionRx, the PBM that it acquired in 2015,” Fein writes. The EnvisionRx-sponsored plan enrolled fewer than 500,000 members, though its enrollment grew by 65% over 2017.

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