George Paz, the longtime head of Express Scripts Holding Co., is stepping down next spring to retire, the St. Louis-based pharmacy benefit management company said Wednesday. Express Scripts President Tim Wentworth will become the next CEO.
Paz, 60, built Express Scripts into one of the 25 largest corporations in the country, and it is the largest pharmacy benefit manager with $101 billion in annual revenue. Paz led the company through one of its biggest transformations in 2012, when it bought competitor Medco Health Solutions for $29 billion. He will officially retire in May 2016 after the company's annual shareholder meeting.
Express Scripts works with employers and health plans to negotiate drug benefits and pharmacy services with pharmaceutical companies. It also is a major provider of Medicare Part D prescription drug plans for seniors and works with physicians to coordinate care and improve drug adherence. Express Scripts made more than $2 billion in profit last year. That amounted to a 2% profit margin, which is similar to the margins achieved by other middlemen who manage healthcare benefits.
Express Scripts has been notably outspoken about the rising prices of prescription drugs, including those that treat hepatitis C, high cholesterol and cancer. It has negotiated discounts with drugmakers for high-cost prescriptions. Express Scripts fired the first shot in the hepatitis C pricing war earlier this year when it put AbbVie's drug on its preferred formulary instead of the popular ones from Gilead Sciences, Sovaldi and Harvoni.
Paz has been with Express Scripts since January 1998, when he started as chief financial officer. He took the corner office in January 2004. Paz ranks among the highest-paid healthcare executives in the country. He made $12.9 million in 2014 and brought in a combined $39 million over the past three years.
Wentworth, 55, has been president of Express Scripts since February 2014 and made $7.3 million in total compensation last year. He was part of Medco, overseeing employer accounts, before the company got bought out.
Paz called Wentworth “the right person to lead Express Scripts into the future.”