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Carroll School of Management

Larry J. Merlo

President and Chief Executive Officer
CVS Caremark

Excerpt from remarks to Boston College’s Chief Executives’ Club of Boston 

June 5, 2012

TAKEAWAY: Pharmacy's Potential

So given that the system is already strained and buckling under mounting cost overruns, what do we do? Well, our current approach to health care, I think, we’d all agree is unsustainable. We need many new approaches. We need to find solutions that can help address this increase in complexity that we’re going to be facing over the next decade. And I’m convinced that one important avenue to improve care, cost, and access is rooted in the profession of pharmacy.

So today I’d like to share my perspective on the role that pharmacy care is playing in this rapidly changing health care landscape [and] some of the things that we’re doing at CVS Caremark that can help make this change work for the people that we serve.

Now, we see firsthand the issues impacting patients, and consider some of these numbers. CVS Caremark sees over five million people in our retail stores every day, and we serve over 60 million members in our pharmacy benefit management business. We employ over 24,000 pharmacists, more than 52,000 pharmacy technicians, and over 1,800 nurse practitioners engaging these people on a daily basis.

Now, pharmacy care has always been one of the most accessible parts of the health care delivery system. Think about this: How many times have you been to your primary care doctor in the past three, or say, six months? Now, how many times have you been to your local pharmacy during that same time period, even if it was just to buy a pack of gum? And in our pharmacy benefit management business, we manage a network of more than 64,000 pharmacies across the country that offer accessible health care professionals for patients to speak with each and every day.

And I think traditionally, people have thought about pharmacies as pill dispensaries, but we know that pharmacy is much more than that, and pharmacy has the potential to extend the front lines of health care, to deliver better outcomes at lower cost to the people that we serve. And at CVS Caremark, we’re committed to innovations to do just that. We’re committed to our purpose of helping people on their path to better health, and we’re committed to reinventing pharmacy to reach more people with better care at lower cost.