Blue Cross sells FutureScripts pharmacy benefits company

Posted: August 05, 2010

Independence Blue Cross announced Wednesday that it is selling its four-year-old pharmacy-benefits arm - FutureScripts L.L.C. and FutureScripts Secure L.L.C. - to Catalyst Health Solutions Inc., a Rockville, Md., company that says it is the country's fourth largest publicly traded pharmacy-benefits firm.

The $225 million deal is expected to close later this year. It includes the value of a future tax benefit for Catalyst.

Pharmacy-benefits managers do everything from negotiating prices with drugstores, to providing mail-order drugs, to monitoring whether patients are taking the best - and best-priced - drugs for chronic health conditions.

Independence Blue Cross spokeswoman Liz Williams said IBC started FutureScripts at a time when many insurers saw the potential benefits of integrating medical and pharmacy data. A company could hold costs down, for example, by making sure that diabetics were taking their medicines.

Drugs account for 14 percent of medical spending in the United States, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study.

In recent years, larger pharmacy-benefits companies have come to dominate the field, and insurers have been selling their drug-management arms to companies that specialize in pharmacy management, said Joseph Frick, IBC's president and CEO, and I. Steven Udvarhelyi, executive vice president health services.

FutureScripts was making money, they said, but IBC and its customers will benefit from Catalyst's greater size.

"We get immediate improvement in scale and capabilities," Udvarhelyi said. That could result in better discounts and service, he added.

"It's a win for our customers. It's a win for our company," Frick said. "We also think it's a win for our community."

FutureScripts, which serves the five-county Philadelphia region, has 100 employees here. Catalyst has pledged to keep them and to retain the FutureScripts brand.

Catalyst and Independence Blue Cross have agreed to a 10-year partnership.

Though some large customers can hire a separate pharmacy manager, Catalyst will be the standard pharmacy-benefits provider.


Contact staff writer Stacey Burling at 215-854-4944 or sburling@phillynews.com.

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