San Diego Business Journal

Mail Pharmacy Expansion Brings Nearly 300 Jobs

By Julie Gallant Monday, August 20, 2012

UnitedHealth Group plans to add 250 jobs to a new pharmacy order processing facility in Mission Valley as it transitions 12 million of its members from contract vendor Medco to its subsidiary OptumRx.

Another 40 jobs are in the process of being filled at OptumRx’s Carlsbad order fulfillment facility. The new jobs are in addition to 400 positions that OptumRx, an Irvine-based pharmacy benefits manager under the UnitedHealth Group umbrella, created and filled in California in 2012.

OptumRx CEO Dirk McMahon said the company created infrastructure to handle the additional Medco business, which will roughly double the size of OptumRx. McMahon added that OptumRx has a robust recruiting infrastructure and training programs to handle the influx of pharmaceutical technicians and clerks as well as pharmacists whose annual salaries range from $30,000 to $100,000.

OptumRx anticipates ramping up the volume of prescriptions it processes to half a billion annually by the end of 2013, and expects to manage more than $32 billion in prescription drug purchases each year. McMahon said OptumRx is well-positioned for longer term growth as the number of people eligible for Medicare is predicted to increase from 41 million to 54 million individuals by 2020.

“The senior population uses four times as many prescriptions as other younger Americans,” he said. “The Medicaid population is also expected to grow with increased emphasis on managed care solutions.”

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Rep. Darrell Issa joined McMahon in making the recent jobs announcement by UnitedHealth Group, an employer of nearly 9,000 people in California.

Newsom described the jobs crisis in the state, which has reached a 10.7 percent unemployment level, or roughly 1.97 million residents actively seeking work. Newsom said 11 counties in California have unemployment rates above 15 percent, including Imperial County which has the highest unemployment rate at 28.2 percent.

“We have got to step up our game, we’ve got to acknowledge this challenge and we’ve got to reignite that engine for growth in this state,” Newsom said. “The announcement today and Dirk’s commitment on behalf of this remarkable company and its board of directors matters to the state of California. This is a positive sign at a time when we need to start focusing again on what’s right.”

Issa applauded OptumRx for dispensing prescription medications with a high level of accuracy using an automated system.

“One of the areas I’m most proud your company is on the forefront of is making sure people take their medicines, by monitoring and following up,” Issa said.