MEDCO MAIL-ORDER IS NOT PART OF MERCK "COORDINATED PHARMACEUTICAL CARE"
MEDCO MAIL-ORDER IS NOT PART OF MERCK "COORDINATED PHARMACEUTICAL CARE" vision, Merck U.S. Human Health President Richard Lane maintained during an Oct. 25 special "town hall" session of NARD's annual meeting in Indianapolis. Lane emphasized that Merck has entered into an agreement to purchase "Medco because of [Medco's] information system capabilities," so that Merck can use them to coordinate pharmaceutical care in a way that involves community pharmacy and pays pharmacists for that involvement. The turbulent relationship between Medco and retail pharmacy has been a sticking point for the Merck/Medco merger from its announcement ("The Pink Sheet" Aug. 2, p. 6). Lane's appearance before NARD reflected that difficulty, as several independent pharmacy owners reported that they previously respected Merck because of its one-price policy but now strive to fill prescriptions for Merck drugs with other companies' products. NARD Exec Committee member Louis Mitchell asked whether Merck would divest Medco's mail-service operation, if that Medco operation is not part of the "coordinated pharmaceutical care" vision. Lane replied that legal restrictions prevented him from disclosing details of Merck's plans for a company it does not yet own. Lane announced that, in an effort to make Merck "a more customer-focused organization," the company is restructuring its U.S. pharmaceutical business into six customer business units. One of the new units will be "focused directly on pharmacy," Lane said. "The unit "will have the objective of working with pharmacy to develop business-to-business relationships, win-win opportunities for meeting patient needs and enhancing the long- term profitability of both Merck and for pharmacy," he declared. "It is our vision that, working with the information systems of Medco, we can include pharmacy more actively in providing care and remunerate pharmacy for being involved in providing that care," Lane said. "Merck believes there's a significant opportunity for us to work with you in the new information systems that we see for the future to assure an appropriate active role for [the community pharmacist] in delivering cost-effective health care, with utilization review, outcome management and direct dialogue with patients." Merck, Lane said, wants "to give physicians and community pharmacists access to information systems that ensure that [health care] is integrated and monitored on a continuing basis." However, he said, "Merck couldn't do that with the skills we had, and that's why we went out and bought Medco."
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