SPARTANBURG, SC-In an effort to rein in soaring drug costs for its employees, BMW Manufacturing Co. has opened a pharmacy at the U.S. assembly plant where it builds the Z4 roadster and X5 sport utility vehicle.

"Prescription drug costs have been increasing in double digits and are the fastest growing portion of BMW's healthcare benefits," says BMW spokesperson Bunny Richardson. "The on-site pharmacy will allow BMW to continue to offer competitive pharmacy benefits for our associates and help curtail continually rising prescription costs."

The on-site pharmacy is operated by CHD Meridian Healthcare (Nashville, TN). The facility employs three licensed pharmacists and provides service to both BMW employees and covered dependents. Use of the pharmacy is encouraged, but not mandatory.

The Spartanburg plant recently built its 500,000th X5. The plant has been manufacturing the compact SUV since 1999. More than 60 percent of the vehicles are exported for sale abroad.