Walmart Inc. will leave CVS Health Corp.’s network that administers drug benefits for millions of Americans, in a dispute over costs that could roil the business of filling prescriptions.
Walmart, the world’s largest retail chain, was demanding higher reimbursements for its in-store pharmacies where customers who have CVS pharmacy-benefit management plans could pick up their prescriptions, CVS said in a statement announcing the split.
Walmart said that it was resisting efforts by CVS to steer consumers to certain pharmacies to have their prescriptions filled. The Bentonville, Arkansas, company said in an emailed statement that it was committed to giving customers access to affordable health care, “but we don’t want to give that value to the middle man.”
“This issue underscores the problems that can arise when a PBM can exert their unregulated power to direct members on where to fill their scripts, disrupting patients’ health care,” the statement said. “Walmart is standing up to CVS’s behaviors that are putting pressure on pharmacies and disrupting patient care.”
“Walmart’s requested rates would ultimately result in higher costs for our clients and consumers,” CVS Caremark President Derica Rice said in the statement. “We simply could not agree to their recent demands for an increase in reimbursement.”
CVS shares fell 2% before the market opened in New York.