CVS, Walmart make nice, reach new multiyear deal to keep retail giant in Caremark’s network 

CVS pharmacy
CVS and Walmart have resolved a dispute over PBM pricing and reached a new agreement. (Mike Mozart/CC BY 2.0)

Just days after Walmart announced it would pull out of CVS Caremark’s network, the two sides have resolved their differences and reached a new contract agreement. 

CVS Health announced Tuesday that Walmart had opted to exit Caremark’s pharmacy benefit management and Managed Medicaid retail pharmacy networks in a dispute over PBM pricing. Walmart took a potshot at CVS’ business practices in a statement, saying it was “standing up” to the company for practices that put undue pressure on pharmacies and disrupt care. 

On Friday, CVS revealed that the two parties had reached a multiyear deal that would keep Walmart in those networks. Walmart and CVS had a separate agreement for participation Caremark’s Part D plans. 

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Caremark also has a separate deal with Walmart’s subsidiary Sam’s Club for its pharmacy networks. 

RELATED: Express Scripts inks 3-year deal with Walmart 

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed by the companies. 

“We are pleased to have reached fair and equitable terms with CVS Caremark that are in the best interest of our customers, and we are glad our CVS Caremark customers will be able to continue saving money and living better,” Sean Slovenski, senior vice president of Walmart Health and Wellness, said in a statement. 

Resolving the dispute keeps Walmart’s close to 5,000 pharmacies in-network for Caremark members, bringing its network total to nearly 68,000 pharmacies. CVS did note, however, that just 5% of Caremark enrollees use Walmart exclusively as their pharmacy. 

The National Community Pharmacists Association said in a statement emailed to FierceHealthcare that the public spat shows how tough it can be for pharmacies to negotiate with PBMs.

"If America’s largest retailer must publicly brawl with PBM middlemen for ‘mutually agreeable’ reimbursement, what leverage do independent community pharmacy owners have? They are presented take-it-or-leave-it contracts by PBM corporations,"  B. Douglas Hoey, the association's CEO, said. "This Walmart-CVS spat brings to light just how difficult it is – even for a Goliath of retail – to negotiate fair contracts with PBM mega-corporations."

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