While the country’s drug prices rise about 12% each year (or 76.2% in the last five years), one county in New York State has found a way to keep the increases lower than the U.S. average (Schenectady County News Release).
With a total increase rate of only 8.9% since 2005, Schenectady County in eastern New York attributes success to its Canadian Drug Program, which has saved the county and its public employees more than $13.7 million in annual drug costs. The Chairwoman of Schenectady County Legislature, Susan E. Savage, recently announced that the current expansion of their Canadian Drug Program (to include two more local unions) will save $4.2 million in 2010 alone.
Schenectady’s drug program reimburses medical plan payments for county employee and retiree’s costs related to drugs purchased in Canada. There is no co-pay, and the average savings are 70% less than U.S. brand name drugs.
According to a Schenectady County Legislature News Release, mail order prescription drug purchases (from Canada and the U.S.) in Schenectady County have increased from 1% to almost 60% of all prescriptions written, since the drug program’s start in 2005. This means that those participating are able to purchase some brand-name drugs for far less than their local pharmacy may offer… or at least they have the option if they desire to do so. Testifying before the State Senate Aging Committee, the county explains that they do not import any generics, as generic drugs usually cost substantially less in the United States than in Canada. Also, all non-maintenance drugs come from local Schenectady pharmacies.
“As far as the legality, we believe that our program is legal under the FDA’s Regulatory Procedure’s Manual, Chapter 9, which permits the FDA to allow drug importation for personal use. Schenectady County does not import drugs for our nursing home or our correctional facility, or for our health department, since such uses would not fall within the FDA personal use exception.”
Currently the Canadian Drug Program is limited to Schenectady county employees and retirees, but officials have expressed that expansion is possible. We eagerly support this growth, as it allows individuals to affordably and safely obtain much-needed medication, just as many Americans already do using pharmacies verified by PharmacyChecker.com.Tagged with: importation programs, Schenectady