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Express Scripts To Lay Off 400 People System-Wide, 90 In St. Louis

A processing floor at Express Scripts in north St. Louis County.
Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio
A processing floor at Express Scripts in north St. Louis County. Walgreen Co. announced today it's dropping Express Scripts in a dispute over fees.

Just months after unveiling a multi-million dollar expansion of its headquarters in north St. Louis county, Express Scripts has announced it will lay off 400 people at multiple facilities around the country. That includes 90 people in St. Louis.

The layoffs are in addition to 1,890 jobs that were cut system-wide in May.

“These are difficult but necessary decisions we have to make in order to position our company for success, future growth and continued service excellence to clients and members,” spokesperson Brian Henry said in an email.

“We are rebalancing our resources to operate more efficiently. We will treat impacted employees fairly and with respect.” 

Express Scripts reported $74.6 billion in revenues for the first three quarters of 2014, about 5 percent lower than last year during the same period.  In June, it ranked 20th on the Fortune 500 list.

Kathleen Gillespie, a health care management professor at Saint Louis University, said some of the layoffs can likely be attributed to streamlining after Express Scripts' recent acquisition of MedCo, which provided pharmacy services for public and private health plans. 

"By those two merging, they became one of the largest -- if not the largest -- pharmacy benefits companies in the country. That increased market share gives them more strength to negotiate with insurance companies," Gillespie said. 

Express Scripts' third-quarter financial report acknowledges it lost UnitedHealth Group as a client last year. It was also hurt by lower prescription volumes and an increase in client use of generic prescriptions.

Express Scripts has about 6,000 employees and contractors in St. Louis. It manages pharmaceutical drug plans, billing services, and mail order prescriptions.

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