(Reuters) – Walgreens Boots Alliance Plc (WBA.O) said on Wednesday it had partnered with primary care provider VillageMD to open doctor offices attached to its drugstores across the United States, as the pharmacy chain looked to expand its healthcare services.

Walgreens would open 500 to 700 physician-led primary care clinics in more than 30 U.S. markets over the next five years, it said in a statement.

With this deal, Walgreens increases its focus on creating clinics that meet essential health needs under one roof, as it faces competition from rival CVS Health Corp (CVS.N), which first launched a handful of stores with expanded health services called ‘health hubs’ in Houston earlier this year.

In June, CVS said it would expand these health services to include nutrition counseling and blood pressure screenings at 1,500 stores by the end of 2021, following through on plans announced during its 2018 acquisition of health insurer Aetna.

FILE PHOTO: A shuttered Walgreens pharmacy store is seen during the coronavirus outbreak in Times Square in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., March 20, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

Walgreens will invest $1 billion in equity and convertible debt in VillageMD over the next three years, including a $250 million equity investment to be completed Wednesday, for a 30% ownership interest in the privately held company.

The clinics would accept a wide range of health insurance options, and offer telehealth and at-home visits, it added.


Reporting by Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich

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