"This is not just a California issue, it's everywhere," the vice president of risk management says.
Observes Zachry: "When you and I were young, our parents probably never took any chronic medication at all. Now we're at an age where we're taking the statins for the cholesterol or the blood pressure or whatever it is. What's happening is that we're transitioning in what pharmacy does.
"It used to be that pharmacy did two things: pain and infection and that was it," adds Zachry. "Now they're getting to a stage where pharmacy eventually will help us regenerate or regrow ligaments and it will help us do a whole lot of other things.And so the nature of what pharmacy is has dramatically changed in our lifetimes and most people don't recognize that."
That's particularly true with the problems associated with chronic pain.
"So there's huge opportunities for savings if you manage and control and understand what is driving your pharmacy costs," says Zachry, who notes that a redesign of Safeway's programs internally a couple of years ago led to 5.1 percent of medical bills at the company being for pharmacy versus 12 percent to 15 percent at companies in California in general.
September 1, 2008
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