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WellPoint Pharmacy Management Reports Increased Generic Drug Use; Potential Savings to Employers and Members in the Millions

WEST HILLS, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 1, 2004--WellPoint Pharmacy Management, the nation's largest health plan-owned pharmacy benefits manager (PBM), today announced a 2.7 percentage point increase in generic drug utilization in the past 12 months for its clients. Based upon historical precedent that for every one percent increase in generic drug utilization there is a savings of approximately fifty cents to one dollar per member per month, millions of dollars could be saved by employers and plan members.

Michael A. Nameth, general manager, WellPoint Pharmacy Management, said, "If a health plan has one million members, utilizing generic drugs could save that plan and its members more than $6 million annually. When members use generic drugs, they lower their out-of-pocket costs and the client (employer) saves on overall drug costs. This helps maintain the affordability of prescription drug benefit programs."

WellPoint Pharmacy Management reported a 49 percent average generic drug utilization rate for prescriptions dispensed at retail pharmacies during the first half of 2004. Similarly, WellPoint Pharmacy Management's mail order pharmacy, PrecisionRx, showed a generic drug utilization rate reaching 40 percent for the first half of 2004 as well, compared to 36.6 percent in July 2003.

WellPoint Pharmacy Management accomplished the generic drug utilization rate increase through a multi-pronged approach. More than 90 percent of brand name drugs that have generic equivalents were replaced by generic medications at pharmacies for lower cost. After each new generic drug entered the market, WellPoint Pharmacy Management implemented educational programs to members and physicians to encourage the use of the lower cost generic drug option. In addition, GenericPoint(R), a quarterly newsletter, was sent to plan sponsors and physician medical groups to announce new generic drug availabilities and to discuss the value of using generic drug when appropriate. Finally, Generic Drug Coupon Programs where co-pays were either waived or discounted were offered to provide members with incentives to switch to a generic drug when prescribed by physicians.

BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York (BCBSWNY), a health plan client of WellPoint Pharmacy Management, achieved an average generic drug utilization rate of more than 50 percent in December of 2003 and has exceeded that rate for the first half of 2004. "The timely launch of generic drug programs using a multi-faceted approach is the key to successful optimization of generic drug savings," said Renee Rizzo Fleming, vice president, corporate pharmacy services, BCBSWNY. "Promotion of appropriate generic drug use has been one of our main focuses. Working closely with our PBM to implement generic programs has paid off with significant savings to our members and the health plan."

Another WellPoint Pharmacy Management client, Blue Cross of Idaho, experienced a 3.2 percent increase in generic utilization rate in the past 12 months bringing their generic utilization rate to nearly 50 percent. Steve Brocksome, director of pharmacy benefit management at Blue Cross of Idaho, says, "In the next few years, we will have generic medications available in all top drug classes where we spend the majority of our pharmacy dollars. This will help to provide lower cost, best value prescription drugs to our customers without compromising the quality of their pharmaceutical care."

WellPoint Pharmacy Management, the nation's leading health plan-owned pharmacy benefit management company serving more than 31.5 million lives, was ranked highest by J.D. Power and Associates for overall member satisfaction with prescription drug benefits and services in 2003. WellPoint Pharmacy Management is the trade name of Professional Claim Services Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of WellPoint Health Networks Inc. (NYSE:WLP). With complete pharmacy benefit management services for employers and health plans nationwide, WellPoint Pharmacy Management's products include, clinical management programs, drug formulary management, claims processing, benefit design consultation, pharmacy network management, local network contract development, manufacturer discount programs, prescription drug databases and utilization management. In addition, WellPoint Pharmacy Management provides mail order pharmacy fulfillment services through its affiliate, PrecisionRx, Inc. WellPoint Pharmacy Management can be found on the web at www.wellpointrx.com.

CONTACT: WellPoint
Lisa Mee-Stephenson, 805-557-6790
lisa.mee-stephenson@wellpoint.com

SOURCE: WellPoint Pharmacy Management

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