Three New England States Open Bids for Prescription Drug Buying Pool
Govs. Howard Dean (D-Vt.), Angus King (I-Maine) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) announced Oct. 24 the second phase of their plan to lower the cost of prescription drugs in their states, the AP/Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports. After agreeing in July to establish the nation's first "multi-state drug-buying pool" to make pharmaceuticals more affordable, the governors announced they are now soliciting bids for the plan from pharmacy benefits management companies. They will review bids in January 2001, select a firm "in the spring" and begin offering the program to state residents on July 1. The buying pool will initially offer group discounts to the region's 330,000 Medicaid patients and will subsequently open participation to municipal employees, state workers and businesses. The governors expect to trim 23%-35% from prescription costs -- a savings of 10%-15% over "previous plans." Shaheen said she and her colleagues chose to act now because they could not "wait for action at the congressional level or [to see] who gets elected president." Spokesman Jeff Trewhitt of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said the program's success depends on "whether it involves the pharmacy benefit manager truly negotiating with pharmaceutical companies in the competitive, private marketplace" (AP/Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 10/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.