CHICAGO- Governor Rod Blagojevich today sent letters to Vermont House Speaker Gaye Symington and Governor Jim Douglas urging them to pass and sign legislation that would authorize Vermont to join the I-SaveRx prescription drug program. I-SaveRx is the first state sponsored program in the nation to allow residents to import prescription drugs from state inspected and approved suppliers in Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom at savings between 25 and 50 percent. The House legislation, if passed, would give Vermont Governor Jim Douglas authorization to enter Vermont into the program. The Vermont Senate passed a similar bill unanimously last week.
“In an ideal world, our leaders in Washington, D.C. would tackle the issue of high prescription drug costs and find a way to give all Americans access to better prices on the world market. But in the meantime, states like Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri and Kansas have taken the initiative to help our own residents get the medications they need at prices they can afford. We hope Vermont will become our next partner in the I-SaveRx program,” said Governor Blagojevich.
Gov. Blagojevich launched I-SaveRx on October 4, 2004, and extended an invitation to other states to join the program. Currently, the program is available to the residents of Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri and Kansas.
Vermont’s Senate Finance Committee introduced Vermont’s legislation after the Food and Drug Administration turned down a request for the state to set up a pilot program to allow the import of prescription drugs from countries like Canada. Vermont’s Attorney General is currently in court trying to force the FDA to approve the program.
Illinois first began exploring the feasibility of drug importation in September of 2003 when the Governor commissioned a study on the pharmaceutical system in Canada. In the spring of 2004, the Governor expanded the review to Europe as well. Public health and regulatory experts from the State researched the pharmaceutical systems in Canada and Western Europe to determine if the systems were safe and if Illinoisans could realize significant savings by purchasing medications from foreign sources. In August 2004, the Governor’s prescription drug advocates released their final report indicating that – like Canada – the European prescription drug system was well-regulated and was able to provide the same medications available in the United States at much lower prices.
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