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BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York has added Walgreens to its retail pharmacy network, effective this week.

The agreement adds more than 30 Walgreens pharmacies in Western New York, and more than 8,000 locations around the country, to a BlueCross BlueShield network that already includes Rite-Aid, CVS, Wegmans, Tops, Walmart, Target and numerous independent pharmacies.

“Walgreens meets our high standards of quality and safety, and the addition of these locations offers even more convenience for our members,” said Dr. Thomas Schenk, a BlueCross BlueShield senior vice president and its chief medical officer, in a statement.

Counting the Walgreens locations, BlueCross BlueShield now has 359 retail pharmacies locally and about 70,000 locations across the United States, according to the insurer.

Independent Health already includes Walgreens in its retail pharmacy network. Univera Healthcare’s commercial members and some of its Medicare members also can use Walgreens retail pharmacies.

The Walgreens-BlueCross BlueShield arrangement went into effect Monday, and some pharmacies have advertised the change.

The agreement also leaves Walgreens as the sole provider of specialty medications to BlueCross BlueShield members.

Specialty medications are prescription drugs that treat complex medical conditions, such as cancer or multiple sclerosis, and that can require special handling or intensive patient supervision. Walgreens replaces Accredo, a division of Express Scripts, as BlueCross BlueShield’s specialty medications provider.

email: swatson@buffnews.com