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UnitedHealth unit, Walgreens form partnership

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and UnitedHealth Group Inc.’s OptumRx, have formed a partnership to help them capture more of the prescription-drug market.

Under the deal, OptumRx will charge its customers, including employers and insurers, less for certain drugs if patients fill their prescriptions at Walgreens stores. The offering will apply to 90-day prescriptions for medications that patients take for chronic conditions, sometimes called maintenance drugs.

“It’s a partnership aimed at improving costs,” OptumRx Chief Executive Mark Thierer told the paper.

The WSJ noted: “The tie-up further alters the pharmaceutical supply-chain landscape, which has undergone intense consolidation in recent years as pharmacy benefit managers have struck deals to consolidate market share. Last year, OptumRx merged with Catamaran Corp., in a $12.8 billion deal. Walgreens’s proposed $9.4 billion purchase of Rite Aid Corp., a retail pharmacy chain that also owns a small PBM, is undergoing regulatory review by the Federal Trade Commission.”

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