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Gov. Blagojevich encourages Democratic governors to join I-SaveRx prescription drug importation program     Send a link to a friend

Governor continues effort to expand Americans' access to safe and affordable prescription drugs

[DEC. 4, 2004]  WASHINGTON -- On Thursday Gov. Rod Blagojevich addressed a gathering of Democratic governors in Washington, D.C., urging them to join the I-SaveRx prescription drug importation program -- the first program in the country to allow Americans to buy safe and affordable prescription drugs from Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Gov. Blagojevich shared the details of his groundbreaking initiative with those attending the Democratic Governors' Association annual meeting. To date, three other states are participating in I-SaveRx: Wisconsin, Missouri and Kansas, which joined the program earlier this week.

"The success of I-SaveRx sends a clear message both to our constituents and to the federal government: We cannot and will not wait any longer for the legislature to act on this issue; our citizens' health is too important," Gov. Blagojevich said. "Four states are already sending this message. I ask that the rest of you join us and give the option of safe and affordable prescription drugs to your state's seniors, working families and small businesses."

I-SaveRx provides more than 26 million residents in four states with access to lower-priced prescription drugs through a network of more than 60 inspected and approved pharmacies and wholesalers in Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland. Consumers in Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin and Illinois can look up I-SaveRx prices and start the enrollment process by calling toll-free 1 (866) ISAVE33 [1 (866) 472-8333] or visiting www.I-SaveRx.net.

Gov. Blagojevich launched I-SaveRx on Oct. 4 and extended an invitation to other states to join the program. Participants in the I-SaveRx plan can save an average of 25 percent to 50 percent on the cost of the most common medications used to treat chronic conditions. For instance, a three-month supply of the drug Lipitor in 20 mg doses, which is used to treat high cholesterol, costs an average of $302 in the United States but is available through I-SaveRx for $203 from Ireland, $214 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 $160 in the United States but only $80 in Ireland, $78 in the United Kingdom and $72 in Canada, plus shipping.

The program connects users to the I-SaveRx clearinghouse, administered by CanaRx, through the www.I-Saverx.net website or the toll-free telephone number 1 (866) ISAVE-33 [1 (866) 472-8333]. The clearinghouse provides users with information on the list of medications included in the program, prices in each of the three countries, and enrollment forms and guidance. Consumers can enjoy one-stop shopping rather than contacting numerous pharmacies to gather information and compare prices.

Before ordering, new enrollees must mail or have their doctor fax a completed health profile form and signed prescription to the 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. The physician will review and rewrite the prescription for a local network pharmacy, which will perform a final safety check to comply with local laws and regulations before dispensing the medication.

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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. All network pharmacies agree to comply with Illinois pharmaceutical standards and to dispense only drugs that are intended as domestic product in Canada, Ireland or the United Kingdom -- meaning the pharmacies cannot dispense to I-SaveRx consumers prescription drugs from countries that are not part of the program.

While all residents of Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri and Kansas are eligible to enroll in I-SaveRx, the states are focusing their promotional efforts on reaching people who do not have prescription drug coverage -- estimated at roughly 6 million individuals in the four states combined. Of that total, older citizens have the greatest need for relief. According to the Center for Policy Alternatives, one out of every five senior citizens takes at least five prescription medications daily. Last year, the prices of the 30 prescription drugs used most by senior citizens rose more than four times faster than the rate of inflation, according to Families USA.

Since launching I-SaveRx, Gov. Blagojevich embarked on an aggressive outreach campaign, visiting more than a dozen Illinois senior centers and explaining the new program to seniors. In addition, the departments of Aging and Public Health are reaching out to seniors and physicians throughout the state to spread information about the program and enrollment procedures.

The Democratic Governors' Association was founded in 1983 to support the candidacy of Democratic governors throughout the nation. The association provides political and strategic assistance to gubernatorial campaigns. In addition, through the Governors' Policy Forum Series, the association plays an integral role in developing positions on key state and federal issues that affect the states.

The Democratic Governors' Association is an independent, voluntary political organization consisting of the governors of the states and territories who are members of the Democratic Party.

[News release from the governor's office]

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