Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals

Large employer group launches pharmacy benefit management business

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A person waits at a Walmart Pharmacy where the Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is available as Walmart and other major U.S. pharmacies take part in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, to increase vaccinations in the U.S. in West Haven, Connecticut, U.S., February 17, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Segar

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Oct 25 (Reuters) - A nonprofit coalition of nearly 40 companies, including U.S. retailers Walmart (WMT.N) and Costco (COST.O), said on Monday it had launched a new firm that would offer pharmacy benefit management (PBM) services for employers.

EmsanaRx, the PBM unit of the Purchaser Business Group on Health (PBGH) coalition, will provide employers a fixed price per prescription as well as guidance from a clinical pharmacist account manager.

PBMs serve as intermediaries between drug manufacturers, health insurance plans and pharmacies to negotiate prescription drug prices.

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San Francisco-based PBGH has been assisting large employers and other healthcare consumers for over three decades in getting access to higher quality care and reducing costs.

Employers have been trying to reign in healthcare costs with limited success.

Earlier this year, the joint venture of Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N)and JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) ceased to exist, three years after the companies came together hoping to clamp down escalating healthcare costs. read more

In November last year, Amazon launched an online pharmacy to deliver prescription medications in the United States.

PBGH is the majority owner of Emsana Health, the company that will house the PBM unit. The group also counts Boeing Co (BA.N) and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) among its members.

"For the first time, employers will own their own data and have the information and tools and clinical resources dedicated exclusively to their unique needs and patient populations," said Greg Baker, who would helm EmsanaRx.

Cigna Corp's (CI.N) Evernorth and UnitedHealth Group's (UNH.N) unit Optum are among the largest providers of PBM services in the United States. Health conglomerate CVS Health Corp (CVS.N) also has a PBM business.

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Reporting by Amruta Khandekar; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Maju Samuel

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