Merlo: COVID-19 testing, return to work platform have 'expanded the universe' of CVS customers

CVS Health's programs to address COVID-19 have "expanded the universe of people" using its services, CEO Larry Merlo said on a call with investors on Friday.

Since March, CVS has administered more than 6 million tests for COVID-19 at 4,000 pharmacy locations nationwide, Merlo said. Of those seeking tests, 70% were not previously CVS Health customers, he said.

Merlo said that CVS testing represents about 75% of tests conducted in a retail setting nationally.

In addition, CVS has had 70 firms sign on with its Return Ready workplace solution, which it unveiled in June. The platform allows employers and universities to track testing and monitor COVID-19 outbreaks. CVS also teamed with Salesforce to unite their respective platforms under one roof for employers interested in deploying both in tandem. 

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Merlo said that of Return Ready's early adopters, 40% were not previously CVS customers.

"Our work in local communities to help curb the spread of the virus is unwavering," Merlo said. 

CVS is also gearing up to be a major player in distributing a vaccine for COVID-19 once one is made available, Merlo said. The pharmacy giant, alongside rival Walgreens, was selected by the Trump administration to assist in disseminating an eventual vaccine in nursing homes.

The company has urged policymakers to allow pharmacy technicians to administer COVID vaccines under supervision from a pharmacist, which CVS said will allow vaccines to be administered more quickly and more effectively allow companies like CVS to scale their vaccine offerings.

In addition to the COVID-19-related launches, another new product offering that's gained significant traction since it was announced in late August is Aetna's new Connected Plan, which centers CVS' healthcare services in its design, Merlo said.

The plans will be available to employers with at least 101 workers in the Kansas City market for 2021 and will feature $0 copayments for services at CVS' HealthHubs and MinuteClinics alongside a PPO provider network

Merlo said the company is already planning an expansion into Texas, with additional states expected to be added next year in time for the 2022 plan year. Merlo said there is a "strong pipeline of interest" in the plan design.