In a video, Merlo said the move “more closely aligns us with our (pharmacy benefit management) clients, health plans and healthcare provider partners who like us are working to deliver better health outcomes while reducing healthcare costs.”
He said the move “position(s) us for a growing role in the healthcare delivery system.”
CVS executives said the decision is expected to cost the company about $2 billion a year in sales. Its revenue figure for 2012 was $123 billion.
Public healthexperts and government officials lauded the decision, urging other pharmacy chains to stop selling tobacco products. “Today's CVS Caremark announcement helps to bring our country closer to achieving a tobacco-free generation,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said.
In recent years, CVS, Walgreen Co. and Rite Aid have introduced in-store clinics to provide minor medical services such as vaccinations, physical examinations and wellness screenings. The scope of their offerings has expanded to some chronic care. In 2006, CVS acquired Minute Clinics. Staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants, there are more than 800 Minute Clinics in stores across 28 states.
According to the Convenient Care Association, there are more than 1,400 retail clinics nationally, with that number expected to rise to 3,000 by 2016. Retail clinics are expected to play a growing role in providing primary care given the shortage of primary-care physicians.