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Kroger wants to end deal with Cigna Express Scripts; drug pricing ‘unsustainable’

Kroger Co. is seeking to end its agreement with Cigna’s Express Scripts in a dispute over costs.

Kroger Co. plans to terminate its agreement with Cigna Corp.’s Express Scripts in a dispute over its drug pricing model.

In a release, the supermarket giant called Express Scripts’ drug pricing model unsustainable for Kroger and its customers and said that access to affordable prescriptions and wellness services remains company's top priority.  Since February, Kroger said, it has attempted on “dozens of occasions” to negotiate in good faith with the pharmacy benefits provider to seek a more equitable and fair contract that lowers cost, increases access and delivers greater transparency. But there has been little to no progress to date.

“We do not believe Kroger customers should have to pay higher costs to increase Express Scripts' profits,” said Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health.

Kroger said that if an agreement is not reached by December 31, 2022, most Express Scripts' commercial customers will no longer be able to fill prescriptions at pharmacies at Kroger stores. More than 90% of Kroger Health customers will be unaffected by the termination of the agreement, according to the company.

We took the necessary step of announcing our intention to terminate our contract with Express Scripts because the current arrangement does not enable Kroger to improve health access, deliver greater pricing transparency, and keep prices affordable for our more than 17 million patients,” said Lindholz. “So far, our efforts to negotiate in good faith have not delivered an agreement in the best interest of our customers – especially members of the military and their families receiving benefits through Tricare – that protects them from rising costs amid record inflation. Kroger remains willing to negotiate any contract with Express Scripts that results in a fair, transparent agreement at a rate that benefits everyone – particularly our customers – and prevents any disruption of services."

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