Walgreen backs out of deal with CVS Caremark plans

Drugstore chain Walgreen Co. said Monday it will no longer do business with CVS Caremark’s pharmacy benefits management operation because it wants better prices and objects to policies designed to drive customers toward CVS stores.

The decision does not affect current Caremark contracts, but if Walgreen stands by the move, it won’t handle any Caremark-managed prescriptions in about three years. Walgreen said it will not participate in new or renewed Caremark plans starting Monday.

Walgreen, the largest U.S. drugstore chain, said it is giving up billions of dollars in revenue with the move, although the full effects won’t be felt for a few years. The company said it gets about 7 percent of its annual sales from Caremark plans.

Caremark is a pharmacy benefits manager. It contracts with employers to handle the drug benefit portion of their health plans. PBMs pay pharmacies to fill prescriptions, saving money by negotiating volume discounts.

CVS Caremark is the second-largest drugstore chain and the third-largest PBM. It has used Caremark to push customers to fill prescriptions at CVS stores, hoping to convert those patients into regular customers.

Critics say operating both a drugstore chain and PBM poses a conflict of interest. CVS said that Walgreen is trying to squeeze Caremark into giving better reimbursement rates.

 

Google says Street View broke no privacy laws

Google representatives Monday said the search engine company has not broken any laws with the collection of data for its mapping service, after Connecticut’s attorney general pressed the company to “come clean with the American public.”

Authorities fear the information gathered for Google’s Street View service, which provides pictures of neighborhoods, may violate privacy laws.

Last month, Google acknowledged it had mistakenly collected data over public Wi-Fi networks in more than 30 countries.

Police in Germany and Australia already have launched their own investigations into the matter.

“As we have said before, this was a mistake,” a Google spokeswoman said in an e-mail statement. “Google did nothing illegal and we are working with the relevant authorities to answer their questions and concerns.”

The attorneys general of Connecticut and Missouri have both sent letters to Google executives asking for clarification on the information collected for Street View.

Former Blackwater firm pursuing sale of company

The security firm formerly known as Blackwater announced Monday it is pursuing a sale of the company that became renowned and reviled for its involvement with the U.S. government in Iraq and elsewhere.

The Moyock, N.C.-based company now called Xe Services announced its decision in a brief statement.

“Xe’s new management team has made significant changes and improvements to the company over the last 15 months, which have enabled the company to better serve the U.S. government and other customers, and will deliver additional value to a purchaser,” the statement said.

Owner and founder Erik Prince said constant criticsm of Xe helped him make up his mind to sell the firm.

The private company became famous as Blackwater, which provided guards and services to the U.S. government in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. It became one of the most respected defense contractors in the world but also attracted criticism over its role in those missions.

It has been trying to rehabilitate its image since a 2007 shooting in Baghdad that killed 17 people led to federal charges against several Blackwater guards. The accusations were thrown out of court after a judge found prosecutors mishandled evidence.

Man acquitted of allowing underage workers at plant

A former slaughterhouse manager was acquitted Monday of allowing minors to work at a meatpacking plant in Iowa.

But former Agriprocessors Inc. executive Sholom Rubashkin still faces sentencing June 22 in federal court, where he was convicted earlier of financial fraud. Prosecutors have asked for a 25-year sentence in that case, much more than Rubashkin would have faced if convicted on all 67 misdemeanor counts of child labor violations in state court. Rubashkin’s attorney has asked for a six-year term in the federal case.

Rubashkin was charged in both cases after a 2008 immigration raid at the former Agriprocessors slaughterhouse in Postville, where 389 workers, including children, were arrested on immigration charges.

Prosecutors had claimed Rubashkin, whose father owned the slaughterhouse, knowingly employed underage workers, exposed them to dangerous chemicals, and allowed them to operate power machinery and work more time per day and per week than is legal.

The defense maintained the plant’s hiring process was flawed but Rubashkin didn’t knowingly hire minors.