Walgreens and OptumRx, a freestanding pharmacy care services business that is part of UnitedHealth Group Inc., are partnering to offer a new pharmacy program.

The program will permit eligible OptumRx members to fill their 90-day maintenance prescriptions at the same copay level whether they use OptumRx’s home delivery service or go to a Walgreens drugstore. It will also give members round-the-clock access to a pharmacist.

In addition, the collaboration will enhance Walgreens and OptumRx’s ability to share health data and analytics. The businesses hope the program will improve drug adherence rates and health outcomes while lowering total health care costs. They anticipate making the program available to commercial clients at the beginning of 2017.

Our Take: When the nation’s largest payer—and one of the largest PBMs and specialty pharmacy—does a deal with the largest retail pharmacy chain, news is made. By facilitating prescription refills in a way that puts the customer in charge, the deal has the potential to shift significant traffic to Walgreens stores.

The power behind the deal lies in the data sharing between Walgreens, UnitedHealthcare, OptumRx and the potential to improve health outcomes—and cut waste.

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