Our history

Prime is celebrating 20 years of drug cost management. And our story is still unfolding. Here are some of our most notable moments — so far. 

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1998-2002: A new model for a new era

For-profit drug makers owned the largest pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Two pioneering Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) plans saw the potential for a better model. Before 1998, Pharmacy Gold Inc. and ProPar begin sharing staff to serve the two nonprofit health plans in 1993. Within a decade, nonprofit Blue Plans from Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Wyoming and Kansas would jointly own this new model — Prime Therapeutics (Prime).

August 28, 1998: Prime Therapeutics Inc. opens for business with Steven S. Martin as president and CEO. The unique model brings together health plans with their PBM to control total cost of care.

2000-2001: North Dakota, Wyoming and Kansas Blue Plans join Prime as equity owners.

January 30, 2002: Steve Martin leaves Prime to lead BCBS of Nebraska. Tim Dickman is named Martin’s successor. Martin continues to serve on the board until his retirement from the health plan in March 2018.

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2003-2007: Growing confidence and opportunity

It’s a busy period for Prime. Health Care Services Corporation (HCSC) and Florida join. Membership surpasses 10 million, including more than 800,000 Medicare Part D members. Employment grows in both Minnesota and Nebraska and expands to Texas and New Mexico with the addition of PrimeMail®.

March 29, 2004: Drawing interest from other Blue Plans, Prime opens the door for additional owners by restructuring as a limited liability corporation (LLC). HCSC becomes an owner.

April 1, 2004: Prime opens PrimeMail® in Irving, Texas, shipping over 1 million prescriptions that first year.

November 1, 2005: After outgrowing the facility on Woolworth Avenue in Omaha, Nebraska, Prime’s 175 contact center employees move to their current location on Farnam Street.

2006: Prime becomes the seventh largest PBM in the first year of the Medicare Part D program.

October 2, 2006: Prime’s new 104,000 sq. ft. headquarters in Eagan, Minnesota opens. Prime now has more than 1,000 total employees.

December 2006: PrimeMail opens a second mail facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

June 2007: Prime takes part in URAC beta test for PBM certification.  Successfully achieves and has continuously maintained URAC certification.

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2008-2012: Hitting our stride

Rapid growth continues with three additional Blue Plan owners (Montana, Alabama and North Carolina). Membership exceeds 20 million people in 2012. A new specialty drug management program quickly becomes its own company, Prime Therapeutics Specialty Pharmacy. PrimeCares is formed to concentrate our charitable activities.

August 1, 2008: With employment at Prime growing at double-digit rates, Prime leases space in the Normandale Lake Office Park, Bloomington, Minnesota. Within four years, Prime has its name on the building.   

June 18, 2008: Prime formalizes its support for its employees and communities with PrimeCares, raising $206,000 in its first year.  

March 24, 2008: Prime launches Triessent, a complete specialty pharmacy management services program.

January 1, 2009: Prime opens a bilingual member contact center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  

March 29, 2010: Eric Elliott succeeds Tim Dickman as Prime’s third president and CEO.

November 3, 2010: Prime introduces “be well” for employees, offering wellness screenings, health coaching, classes and more.

September 15, 2011: Prime launches GuidedHealth®, a clinical intelligence hub that helps members and doctors make better decisions based on pharmacy and medical data.

September 22, 2011: Prime introduces CareCentered Contracting, an innovative value-based contracting program.

August 1, 2012: Following the success of Triessent, Prime creates Prime Therapeutics Specialty Pharmacy™.

September 5, 2012: Prime’s new purpose statement, “To help people get the medicine they need to feel better and live well,” crystalizes our focus on member experience and shapes our culture.

Fall 2012: PrimeCares’ 2012 Week of Giving campaign sets a record, raising $290,000.

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2013-2019: Moving ahead in a shifting landscape

Powerful forces reshape health care. While the largest PBMs grow through mergers and acquisitions, Prime grows by adding new owners (BCBS Rhode Island and Cambia Health Solutions), new clients (Capital Blue and the Federal Employee Program) and expanding in all market segments. A powerful collaboration with Walgreens aligns the PBM, health plans and retail pharmacy for the first time. AllianceRx Walgreens Prime enters the market as one of the largest specialty pharmacies.

Early 2013: Under new CFO Jim DuCharme, Prime introduces the Financial Value Statement. “None of our competitors come close to providing the level of financial disclosure Prime provides,” says DuCharme.

Early 2013: Prime launches the “Let’s Be Clear” campaign, empowers contact center first-call resolution, and enhances mobile and digital communications.

Early 2013: Prime’s Medicare enrollment exceeds 1 million people.

May 4, 2013: R.E. Fill makes his public debut at the Twin Cities Heart Walk, using his winning personality to inform and educate our members and clients.

June 11, 2013: Prime earns the top rating for overall customer satisfaction among PBMs with more than 20 million members in the Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute (PBMI) annual survey.

October 4, 2013: Years before the opioid crisis makes headlines, Prime and Florida Blue receive a URAC care coordination award for their controlled substance (CS) program.

March 3, 2015: Prime’s Specialty Drug Watch List receives the Rx Benefit Innovation Award from the Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute (PBMI).

March 18, 2015: Thanks to the strength of our Blue Plans, Prime is the largest PBM serving the Health Insurance Marketplace (HIM) in its first year of operation.

March 25, 2015: Prime’s call centers are recognized for excellence by the Service Quality Management (SQM) Group. Prime’s Omaha, Nebraska, team earns Call Center World Class Certification.

April 1, 2015: Prime Analytics™ provides clients with on-demand access to daily reports and interactive dashboards, becoming an essential resource for clients.

April 14, 2015:  Jim DuCharme succeeds Eric Elliott as Prime’s fourth president and CEO.

September 03, 2015: Prime launches Best in Care, a set of drug management programs for high-cost drugs.

July 1, 2016: Prime launches NetResults. Clients that adopt the formulary strategy post an 8 percent lower drug trend in 2017 than other plans.

August 29, 2016: Walgreens and Prime announce a strategic collaboration, creating a new model that aligns the pharmacy, PBM and health plans for the first time.

January 27, 2017: Prime earns National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) certification for utilization management and health information products.

March 31, 2017: The Federal Employee Program (FEP®) selects Prime to manage the specialty pharmacy benefit for 5.4 million federal employees, retirees and their families.

April 3, 2017: AllianceRx Walgreens Prime hits the market as one of the largest central-fill specialty and home delivery pharmacies in the United States.

June 5, 2017: Prime breaks ground on a 400,000 square foot facility in Eagan, Minnesota, for Prime’s IT and operations teams.

November 8, 2017: For the third time in five years, Prime again earns the top rating for overall customer satisfaction among PBMs with more than 20 million members in the Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute (PBMI) annual survey. 

January 2018: Covered lives surpasses 27 million people.

February 20, 2018: Prime’s annual drug trend report, “Focus on trend,” reports that Prime delivered negative drug trend across all lines of business in 2017.

March 7, 2018: Building on decade-long leadership in addressing the controlled substance crisis, Prime’s Controlled Substance Management Program earns the 2018 Excellence Award from the Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute (PBMI). Prime’s previous efforts have contributed to a 79 percent decline in the number of high-risk opioid users over the past five years for Prime’s commercial book of business.

October 15, 2018: With the first phase of construction finished, more than 900 employees begin moving from Eagandale to Prime Landing. The three-phase construction of Prime’s new headquarters is expected to be completed in 2020. 

January 1, 2019: Prime begins the year with more than 28 million members across all lines of business. 

March 4, 2019: Prime introduces Specialty MonitorTM, a power analytics tool that gives clients self-service access to their plan’s specialty drug data – both medical and pharmacy benefits – to inform smart business decisions and improve the care for their members.

May 7, 2019: Ken Paulus succeeds Jim DuCharme as president and CEO, bringing more than 30 years of transformative leadership to Prime.