Citing an 'unsustainable' pharmacy contract, Kroger drops Express Scripts

Kroger, a grocery store chain with more than 2,000 pharmacies across the nation, terminated its contract with Express Scripts on Sept. 29 because the pharmacy services provider's "drug pricing model is unsustainable."

The Cincinnati-based grocery chain is now seeking a "more equitable contract" for the 238 million prescriptions its staff fills every year. 

"Since February, Kroger has attempted on dozens of occasions to negotiate in good faith with [Express Scripts] — seeking a more equitable and fair contract that lowers cost, increases access and delivers greater transparency — but there has been little to no progress to date," Kroger Health said in a Sept. 30 news release. 

The pharmacy services provider's "current proposal is far out of line" for Kroger's 17 million patients and 22,000 healthcare employees, the grocery chain said, "and far outside the industry standard."

"It is troubling that Kroger is pressing for a contract that would pass higher costs on to our clients and patients," an Express Scripts spokesperson told Becker's. "We remain focused on ensuring that the millions of patients we serve have affordable access to prescription drugs through our extensive network of more than 65,000 pharmacies, and would welcome Kroger back to the network if they decide they want to do what is in the best interest of their customers."

The spokesperson added that the deal with Kroger accounted for 1.5 percent of its total customer base, and Express Scripts will work to transition those customers to "another in-network pharmacy in their area."

Editor's note: The story was updated at 4:25 p.m. CT to include a response from Express Scripts.

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