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Kroger to Sell Specialty Pharmacy Business to Elevance Health’s CarelonRx

Grocery store operator The Kroger Company plans to sell its specialty pharmacy business to CarelonRx, a subsidiary of Elevance Health.

Kroger has entered into a definitive agreement for the sale, the company said in a Monday (March 18) press release. Subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, the sale is expected to close in the second half.

“As part of our regular review of assets, it became clear that our strong specialty pharmacy business unit will better meet its full potential outside of our business,” Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health, said in the release.

Kroger Specialty Pharmacy, which has been part of the company since 2012, serves patients with chronic illnesses who require special care, according to the release. These diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, growth hormone deficiencies, multiple sclerosis and bleeding disorders.

The specialty pharmacy is separate from the grocer’s in-store retail pharmacies, The Little Clinics and other Kroger Family of Pharmacies — none of which are included in this transaction, the release said.

In the specialty pharmacy, clinicians and therapy programs provide patients and prescribers with education, resources, counseling, side effect management, financial assistance, personalized care and administrative expertise, per the release.

“One of the most important considerations was continued operations to ensure minimal disruption to our associates and patients,” Lindholz said in the release, speaking of the planned transaction. “We are confident this transaction will help the business to grow and deliver better results for patients. We look forward to working toward a smooth transition for associates and patients.”

Elevance Health changed its name from Anthem in March 2022 in a bid to recast itself as a company with a broader focus than traditional health insurance.

The name change came as the firm’s family of companies evolved to offer products and services beyond routine health insurance, including digital capabilities, clinical, behavioral, pharmacy and complex care assets.

Today, its companies include Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield health plans, Wellpoint affiliated health plans and specialty companies, and Carelon health services, according to the Elevance Health website.

During Kroger’s March 7 earnings call, CEO Rodney McMullen said the grocery giant is setting its sights on omnichannel shoppers to boost spending.