Website Helps New Yorkers $ave On Prescription Drug Costs


Attorney General Spitzer today released a report showing that his office's prescription drug price website can help significantly reduce New Yorkers' out-of-pocket payments for needed medications.

"The rising cost of prescription medications remains a significant burden to our seniors, the uninsured and those lacking adequate prescription drug insurance coverage," Spitzer said. "Our analysis shows that when prescription drug prices are easily accessible, consumers can comparison shop and keep their drug costs as manageable as possible."

Since August 2004, the Attorney General's office has conducted periodic surveys of hundreds of pharmacies across the state and currently has the prices of the 150 most commonly prescribed drugs available on the website. The surveys have consistently found that prices for prescribed medications vary greatly among pharmacies in the same county, city, or even within a particular ZIP code.

Recently, the Attorney General's office sought to determine how much money, on average, consumers using the website could save. The office analyzed 1,898 drug price comparison searches performed by consumers at www.nyagrx.org, during the two-week period of January 12 -26. The analysis revealed that consumers can save an average of $17.36 per prescription by choosing to buy their medications at the lowest prices in their area as reported on the website. The average savings were 24 percent per prescription.

Among the most frequently searched drugs on the website, the report found that the potential for savings varied greatly, ranging from14 percent for Lipitor, a commonly prescribed brand name cholesterol-reducing medication, to 54 percent for Atenolol, a popular generic heart drug. Generic drugs exhibited the greatest price variability and therefore, the largest potential savings.

Among the top ten drugs that offered the highest potential for savings, the report found that the maximum potential savings was $85 per prescription for Depakote, a drug used to treat bipolar disorder, epilepsy, and migraine headaches.

The Attorney General's office surveys pharmacies across the state with assistance from AARP member volunteers. Hundreds of AARP volunteers visit local pharmacies in their counties to collect each pharmacy's Drug Retail Price List for posting on the website. One of the volunteers, 72 -year-old Ed Godwin of Middletown, takes eight medications a day and was feeling pinched by rising drug costs. By using , he discovered that one of his medications cost $12.92 at one pharmacy and $107 at another. Now, Mr. Godwin visits 11 pharmacies each month to collect prices for the website in an effort to help others save money on their prescription medication costs.

To obtain prescription drug price comparison information of surveyed pharmacies, visit . Consumers without internet access and seeking prescription medication price comparison information may call the Health Care Bureau's Helpline at 1-800-771-7755 option 3.

The report was prepared by the Attorney General's Health Care Bureau under the direction of Bureau Chief Joseph Baker. Data in the report were compiled by staff of the Legal Technology and Systems Management Bureau and the report was written by Rashmi Vasisht, Health Care Bureau Director of Policy and Research, Hampton Finer, Division Economist, Division of Public Advocacy and Lisa Vura-Weis, Economic Research Analyst of the Antitrust Bureau.

A copy of the report is available on the Attorney General's website: www.ag.ny.gov

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