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Mail order pharmacy lays off 133 workers

Giant mail-order pharmacy Express Scripts has laid off 133 employees at its Las Vegas location east of McCarran International Airport, a company spokesman said Friday.

The move comes two months after the company completed its $29.1 billion takeover of Medco Health Solutions, which had owned the Las Vegas operation.

St. Louis-based Express Scripts did not have a head count for its plant at 6225 Annie Oakley Drive, but the company said it averages about 750 people per pharmacy. It has had a total Nevada workforce of about 1,400.

The mail-order plants resemble a giant assembly line of pills, where a handful of licensed pharmacists oversee hundreds of technicians who perform much of the manual work.

Mailing costs rise as the distance between the pharmacy and customer gets longer. So the company is trying to cut expenses by shifting the workload to fit the amount of business in the area surrounding a pharmacy, spokesman Brian Henry said. Las Vegas came up short in this category.

When the Medco purchase was announced last July, Express Scripts executives said they could wring out cost savings of $1 billion but gave no specifics. In succeeding months, they portrayed this as a way to hold down the cost of drugs to millions of clients.

Officials at the United Steelworkers Union Local 675, which has organized the Las Vegas location, could not be reached for comment.

Through internal growth and takeovers, Express Scripts has emerged as the industry behemoth, with $46.1 billion in revenues last year and a net income of $1.3 billion.

Contact reporter Tim O’Reiley at
toreiley@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290.

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