CHICAGO – Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich welcomed the State of Vermont to the I-SaveRx prescription drug importation program -- the first program in the nation to allow citizens to purchase lower cost, safe prescription drugs from state-approved pharmacies in Europe and Canada.
Vermont Governor Jim Douglas yesterday signed legislation authorizing his state to join I-SaveRx and offer its 619,000 residents access to lower-priced medications through a network of more than 60 inspected and approved pharmacies and wholesalers in Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland. In coming weeks, Vermont citizens will be able to take advantage of savings of up to 50 percent on more than 120 name-brand medications used to treat chronic conditions.
“I want to commend Governor Douglas and the Vermont Legislature for taking this bold step to give their residents access to a program that provides the significant savings available abroad as well as the kind of safety and oversight our residents expect,” Governor Blagojevich said. “Vermont has been a leader in the effort to bring down the cost of prescription medications – even suing the FDA to try to win the right to import prescription drugs. By joining I-SaveRx, they’re giving their citizens relief now while we all continue to push for long-term change at the federal level.”
"We are very pleased to be joining Illinois in this program as states across the country continue the struggle to provide their citizens with access to affordable prescription drugs," Vermont Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Welch said. "The legislature made this a top priority. We appreciate the leadership of Governor Blogojevich and the prompt action by our Governor Jim Douglas to sign this important legislation."
Gov. Blagojevich launched I-SaveRx on October 4, 2004, and extended an invitation to other states to join the program. Participants in the I-SaveRx plan can save an average of 25 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 $282 in the United States; but is available through I-SaveRx for $198 from Ireland, $175 from the United Kingdom, and $209 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 $179 in the U.S.; but only $92 in Ireland, $90 in the U.K., and $79 in Canada, plus shipping.
The program connects users to the I-SaveRx clearinghouse, administered by CanaRx, through the website (www.I-Saverx.net) or toll-free telephone number (1-866-ISAVE-33). 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, who will review and re-write the prescription for a local network pharmacy. The pharmacy will perform a final safety check to comply with local laws and regulations before dispensing the medication.
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 re-fill 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 only dispense drugs that are intended as domestic product in Canada, Ireland or the U.K. – meaning the pharmacies cannot dispense prescription drugs from other countries that are not part of the program to I-SaveRx consumers.
While all residents of Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas – and soon Vermont – are eligible to enroll in I-SaveRx, the program will be most valuable to those who do not have prescription drug coverage, especially senior citizens.