With safety issues no longer a concern to Blagojevich, he says the state can save more than 16% of its annual share of drug costs through a Canadian drug-buying program. Overall, that amounts to $90.7 million a year in savings for Illinois or $1,008 for a state employee or retiree that fills three prescriptions a month, according to a report on a study commissioned by the governor last month (See Illinois Gov Pushes For Canadian Drug Purchases ).
Of that savings, the state would see $56.5 million knocked off its total bill for employee prescription drugs that totaled $340 million last year. Blagojevich now plans to shares his findings with Congress in hopes for a federal blessing to the proposal.
With the move, Illinois would become the second state to formalize a Canadian prescription drug purchase plan this month, after Minnesota’s Governor Tim Pawlenty proposed a plan to help Minnesotans purchase prescriptions from Canada earlier this month (See MN Governor Brings Canadian Drug Buying Plan to the Streets). Similar to Blagojevich’s proposal, Pawlenty’s plan is being positioned as a way of putting pressure on national leaders to tackle high prescription drug prices. While scaled down from Pawlenty’s original proposals (See MN Governor Looks Up For Lower Drug Prices ), the program includes five-steps to help residents of the state catch a break in drug pricing.
Further, the two Midwestern states have been joined by officials in Iowa (SeeIowa Looks To Hop on Canadian Drug Bandwagon) and Wisconsin to join the rising voice of public officials to advocate Canadian drug-buying programs. Added to that list was New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg who said, “It is a great idea to use our combined economic power to [buy drugs from Canada] … It is on our to-do list,” last week (See Big Apple Mayor Wants to Harvest Drugs From Canada ).
However, putting the potential cost savings aside, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has repeatedly raised questions about the safety of drugs brought from Canada and other countries. Among the agency’s concerns is the inability to ensure the safety of the products due to the potential for counterfeit drugs, drugs kept beyond their expiration dates, drugs not approved for use in this country and drugs from other countries shipped into Canada and then elsewhere (SeeFDA Stings Springfield’s Canadian Drug Supplier).
More information on Illinois plan is available at www.affordabledrugs.il.gov .