2008-02-22 / Community

State Website Will Provide Prices For Prescription Drugs

Rockaway residents will soon be able to check the prices of their prescriptions to see if they are getting the best deal possible at their pharmacies, the governor announced on Wednesday.

Governor Eliot Spitzer and Lieutenant Governor David A. Paterson have announced a new state website that allows consumers to easily compare prescription drug prices for the 150 most commonly prescribed drugs at pharmacies in their neighborhoods, in order to purchase needed drugs at the best possible price.

Lieutenant Governor Paterson was in Albany to announce the site, www.rx.nyhealth.gov, which will help consumers access more affordable prescription drugs for themselves and their families. The website searches drug prices by zip code, city or county; provides brand name and generic drug prices; lists pharmacies' addresses and phone numbers; and provides driving directions. It was developed and will be maintained by the Department of Health.

"Being able to access affordable prescriptions will help countless New Yorkers who are impacted by the staggering cost of treating their illnesses," said Governor Spitzer. "This resource will help New Yorkers afford the prescriptions they need to stay healthy and impact the market by incentivizing drug companies that offer lower prices."

In August 2004, then Attorney General Spitzer launched the state's first website designed to allow consumers to find the cheapest prescription drugs. In 2005, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, and Senator Martin Golden sponsored legislation to create a new, more comprehensive site. Their bill was signed into law by Governor George Pataki later that year with the help of AARP, but the technology needed to build the website was not funded until Governor Spitzer's first budget passed in 2007.

A 2006 analysis of web searches conducted by then Attorney General Spitzer found that consumers could save an average of 24 percent by buying their medications at the lowest prices in their neighborhood. The analysis showed that retail prices of seven of the 25 most commonly prescribed drugs varied by more than 100 percent across the state. For example, Atenolol (dosage: 50 mg; quantity: 30), a generic blood pressure drug, was $2.75 at its lowest surveyed price, in Seneca County, and $42.30 at the highest surveyed price in Suffolk County - almost 16 times more expensive. www.rx.nyhealth.gov updates prices on a weekly basis and helps consumers make smart choices.

Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., said: "Informed consumers are smarter shoppers. This website will help people check prices so they can lower their personal cost of prescription drugs and use their health care dollars wisely."

Lois Aronstein, AARP New York State Director said: "Thanks to the efforts of Governor Spitzer and Commissioner Daines, New York State is one step closer to

making prescription drugs more accessible and affordable to all consumers. Prescription drug prices have risen at double, to close to triple, the rate of inflation over the past few years.

This website is a vital tool for those struggling to pay for prescription drugs."

Examples of savings possible by using the new website include: In the Albany region, Celebrex (dosage: 200 mg; quantity: 30), commonly prescribed to relieve arthritis pain, was $102.99 at the lowest surveyed price and $146.97 at the highest, a difference of nearly $44.

In the Binghamton region, Crestor (dosage: 10 mg; quantity: 30), a drug used to lower cholesterol, was $78.62 at the lowest reported price and $103.99 at the highest, a difference of over $25.

In the New York City region, Allegra (dosage: 60 mg; quantity: 60), an allergy relief drug, was $106.30 at the lowest surveyed price and $165.00 at the highest, a difference of nearly $58.30.

In the Buffalo region, Lunesta (dosage: 3 mg; quantity: 30), a commonly prescribed sleep aid, was $132.66 at the lowest reported price and $190.44 at the highest, a difference of nearly $58.

In the Westchester region, Advair Diskus (dosage: 250 mg; quantity: 60), commonly prescribed for asthma treatment, was $193.62 at the lowest price and $325.50 at the highest price, a difference of $131.88.

In the Syracuse region, Nexium (dosage: 40 mg; quantity: 30), which is prescribed for heartburn, was $153.13 at the lowest surveyed price and $207.00 at the highest, a difference of nearly $53.87.

Features of www.rx.nyhealth.gov include: • Regular updates prices for the 150 most frequently prescribed drugs from data

provided by the Medicaid system. • All pharmacies that participate in Medicaid - 89 percent of all pharmacies in

the state. • Prices for drugs at their most common quantity, strength and dosage. For example,

while Amoxicillin is available in several different doses, the most common

price for the most frequently prescribed strength, quantity and dosage form will

be shown. • A Frequently Asked Questions page • A "Contact Us" page • Aconsumer information section with links to websites that provide information

on prescriptions and programs that can help consumers obtain their medications.

New Yorkers without Internet can access the website through their local libraries or senior citizen centers.

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