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Walmart offers seniors lower copays, angers local pharmacists

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Neighborhood pharmacists are incensed at Walmart’s new Medicare prescription-drug joint venture with Humana, which would charge seniors lower copayments if they purchase their prescriptions at a Walmart or Sam’s Club store.

Joseph Harmison, president of the National Community Pharmacists Association, said in a statement, “This is simply Walmart’s latest ‘loss leader,’ intended to bring more people through its doors at the expense of patient care and quality customer service.” He called the plan coercive and said it will penalize seniors who wish to purchase their prescriptions at neighborhood pharmacies.

For its part, Walmart argues it is merely trying to make drugs more accessible for those who need them.

“We believe no one should have to choose between buying their groceries or their medications,” said John Agwunobi, head of Walmart’s health and wellness division.

The pharmacists’ association counters that neighborhood pharmacies offer the kind of personalized service that Walmart cannot.

“The relationships independent pharmacists have with their patients greatly encourage better patient adherence to their prescribed medication regimen, which can lower overall health care costs,” said Harmison.