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Express Scripts Expansion Marks The Latest Sign Of Growth For St. Louis Company

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio


Express Scripts celebrated the latest expansion to its north St. Louis County campus on Monday, another sign of growth for one of the nation’s biggest corporations.

The $56 million expansion includes an addition to its research lab and a new administrative office building. The project – which received millions of dollars worth of state and local tax breaks -- is expected to bring 1,500 jobs to the region within the next few years.

“These are great jobs,” said Express Scripts CEO George Paz. “These are jobs that are changing the trajectory of health care spending across the United States. So, there’s a lot of pride that we’re here today in opening our next step of our expansion and our growth.”

Express Scripts President Tim Wentworth said the expansion will serve as a “work zone for innovation” to drive better health care outcomes “not just in St. Louis, not just in our county, not just in our region, but in our world,” he said.

“[It brings] access to large amounts of extraordinary sophisticated data that allow us to drive different outcomes and study and understand how to make things better and more effective,” Wentworth said. “Because at the end of the day, what goes on in here is about our patients.”

A bipartisan array of political officials was on hand Monday to lavish praise on the company, which has existed for less than 30 years. Gov. Jay Nixon, for instance, said the expansion demonstrates “each and every day what it takes to compete and win in this global economy.” 

Credit Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley listen on during Paz's speech.

“The jobs of the future are going to be technology-based,” Nixon said. “And this company just exudes that.”

Matthew Eyles is an executive vice president at Avalere Health, a Washington, D.C.-based company that analyzes the health care industry. He said Express Scripts’ growth could be traced to the expansion of the pharmacy benefits management industry as a whole, which has become increasingly indispensable to the health care industry.

He said for Express Scripts key acquisitions – especially that of Medco a few years ago – helped too.

“I think that they’ve had a very effective strategy about both combining organic growth from just what we’ve seen out there from prescription drug spending generally. And then through strategic acquisitions,” Eyles said. “Clearly, with the acquisition of Medco a few years ago, that took it to an entirely different level.”

Eyles isn’t sure Express Scripts can match the growth of the past few years. But he said the company could expand further through managing specialty drugs, including complex medications to fight cancer.

“That’s a particular area where many pharmacy benefit managers are looking to add value to these otherwise very higher cost, more complex medications that are becoming much more common in health care today,” Eyles said.  

The Express Scripts Holding Co. came in at number 20 on the 2014 edition of the Fortune 500. The magazine noted that the company “expects its earnings per share to increase between 10 percent and 20 percent annually for the next several years thanks to expected growth from its mail order and specialty drug businesses.”

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.