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State board urges Arizona company be awarded prescription drug contract Blues ran program for several years


The contract to administer the prescription drug program for state employees will be awarded to an Arizona company rather than to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland Inc., which has held it for several years, if the state Board of Public Works accepts the recommendation of the Personnel Department.

Officials at a Virginia company that is slated to do utilization reviews for the drug contract said that the Arizona company, Prescription Card Services, had gotten the nod from the state.

Richard Hofheimer, executive director of pharmacy benefits at the Computer Co. of Richmond, said that executives at PCS told him their bid was selected as the best by the Maryland Personnel Department.

A spokeswoman at PCS, in Scottsdale, Ariz., acknowledged that the Personnel Department picked the company's bid, but declined to give any further information until the contract is approved. The matter is expected to be taken up at the board's Sept. 18 meeting.

Earlier this week, Tina Saarlas, a Blue Cross spokeswoman said, that the prescription drug benefit was part of Blue Cross' Major Medical contract until 1988, when it became a stand-alone program. The company held the two-year contract, and this year the Personnel Department decided to solicit bids for a four-year contract, Ms. Saarlas said.

She said that the state asked for bids for a self-funded program, where the bidder would provide only administrative services. Under the current insurance program, the state and its employees pay premiums and co-payments to Blue Cross, which then covers the costs of providing the prescription drugs.

Ms. Saarlas said that the request for bids was based on about 93,000 contracts, covering about 200,000 people with an expected 1.2 million claims per year.

A Personnel Department official said that there were eight or 10 bidders, but several were disqualified on technical grounds.

The contract for the utilization review program is on the agenda for Wednesday's Board of Public Works meeting. The Computer Co., a national health-care claims administrator, was the lowest bidder, at about $600,000 over four years, for a new contract to review prescription drug use patterns by state employees.

Mr. Hofheimer said that his company will run computer analyses of all claims with an eye toward reducing costs and heading off dangerous dosages and drug-mixing. Three panels of pharmacists will be hired throughout the state to review those computer analyses, he said.

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