Illinois, Wisconsin Kick Off Drug Buying Program

October 6, 2004 ( - Illinois and Wisconsin officials have formally launched a joint prescription drug importation program under which residents can buy lower-cost drugs from Europe and Canada.

An announcement by Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois and Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle said that under the new I-SaveRx prescription drug importation program, about 18 million people in the two states will have access to lower-priced drugs through a network of 45 inspected andapproved pharmacies and wholesalers in Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland. Through the program, residents should be able to get savings of an average 25% to 50% from what they would pay in the US.

For instance, a three-month supply of the high cholesterol drug Lipitor in 20 mg doses costs an average of $282 in the United States; but is available through I-SaveRx for $180 from Ireland, $202 from the United Kingdom, and $210 from Canada, plus the $15 per order shipping charge.A three-month supply of Celebrex in 100 mg doses, used to treat arthritis pain, costs $213 in the US; but only $101 in Ireland, $102 in the U.K., and $79 in Canada, plus shipping.

Blagojevich called on other states to join the program in letters and program information mailed to all forty-eight other governors.

“After a year of research, we know that the prescription drugs in Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States are exactly the same in every way but one — the price,” Blagojevich asserted in a Web site statement. “ No one should have to choose between putting food on the table, paying the rent or being able to afford the medicine they need. Programs like these will hopefully help make that kind of choice a thing of the past.”

The I-SaveRx program has safeguards built-in and includes thorough oversight of network pharmacies, officials said. Before ordering from the program, new enrollees must mail or have their doctor fax a completed health profile form and signed prescription to a clearinghouse. Once the clearinghouse has received the prescription and health profile form, it will conduct an initial scan for appropriateness using the same drug interaction software used in Illinois pharmacies.

If the prescription passes the interaction test, it will then be turned over to a network physician in the country from which the medication will be dispensed, who will review and rewrite the prescription for a local network pharmacy. The pharmacy will perform a final safety check to comply with local laws and regulations before dispensing the medication.

The I-SaveRx import program builds-in numerous safety measures to ensure the quality and safety of drugs dispensed. The list of available drugs is limited to those that are used for long periods of time and that cannot spoil during the shipping process. Consumers can order eligible drugs for refill only, so patients and their doctors have had time to review for unanticipated side-effects or interactions.

More information is at .