Reports: St. Louis-area supermarket chains look to draw Walgreens customers as WAG-ESI dispute continues

NEW YORK — Supermarket chain Schnucks is hoping to benefit from the spat between Walgreens and pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts, according to published reports.

The St. Louis Business Journal reported that Schnucks was inviting Walgreens customers to have their prescriptions filled at Schnucks stores; the chain operates 100 stores in the Midwest, including 95 with in-store pharmacies and 65 in the St. Louis area. Walgreens and ESI are embroiled in a dispute over how much the PBM will pay Walgreens for filling prescriptions after the expiration of their current contract on Dec. 31. The companies may terminate their arrangement if an agreement can't be made. Another local chain, Dierbergs, was seeking to draw Walgreens customers to its 21 supermarket pharmacies in the St. Louis area as well, the newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, the Belleville, Ill., News-Democrat, a St. Louis-area newspaper, quoted a Schnucks spokeswoman as saying that the chain was looking to reach out to Walgreens customers as it did not appear that a solution to the Walgreens-ESI dispute would happen. It also quoted an ESI spokesman as saying Walgreens should reduce its rates — which he called higher than those of other pharmacies — due to increasing drug costs and a Walgreens spokesman as saying that Walgreens would consider a "fair and competitive offer" from ESI, but did not expect an agreement in time.