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Question of the Day
The Walgreen pharmacy chain will begin filling prescriptions from customers in the Express Scripts network again starting in September under a new multiyear contract that ends a costly impasse between the companies.
The agreement announced Thursday follows a series of disputes between Walgreen and Express Scripts that ended with the discontinuation of the contract between the drugstore operator and the pharmacy benefit manager last year.
The terms of the new agreement were not disclosed.
The developments illustrate the dexterity that providers are going to have to play to compete effectively in a rapidly changing health care marketplace.
Express Scripts administers prescription drug benefits for health plan sponsors and members, and it pays drugstores like Walgreen to fill prescriptions. Since January, Walgreen has not filled prescriptions for Express Scripts, saying the company was not paying enough in drug dispensing fees. Its sales have slumped since the split.
Jobless claims rise to 386K on seasonal factors
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose by 34,000 last week, a figure that may have been skewed higher by seasonal factors.
Applications for benefits increased to a seasonally adjusted 386,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The gain followed a drop of 24,000 the previous week and was the biggest jump since April 2011.
Economists view the recent numbers with skepticism. The government struggles to adjust the data to reflect temporary summertime layoffs in the auto industry, they note. And this year, many automakers skipped those typical shutdowns to keep up with demand. That led to fewer layoffs two weeks ago, which the Labor Department didn’t anticipate.
“All of this is statistical noise,” Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at MFR Inc., wrote in a note to clients. “What will be more important than these short-term gyrations is where claims settle down after the distortions end. We suspect that the data will point to a soggy labor market.”
The less volatile four-week average fell by 1,500 to 375,500.
• From wire dispatches and staff reports
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