The cost of prescription medications for employees of Montgomery County and the city of Amsterdam has been cut nearly in half since they began participating in the CanaRx prescription drug plan.
More than 5,000 prescriptions have been issued since the program’s start in 2006 for participants, according to statistics provided by CSEA Local 829 President Eddie Russo.
The cost for 5,403 prescriptions under a typical U.S. prescription plan is estimated at $1.97 million, but instead cost roughly $1 million through the end of October, according to the report from CanaRx.
Including employees, their family members and retired employees, 1,474 people are covered under the Canadian drug plan .
That figure reflects about 42 percent of the estimated number of those who could get involved but are not.
“People for some reason don’t want to change. But it’s the same exact drug,” Russo said.
Through the program, CanaRx mails out name-brand drugs, such as maintenance medications for blood pressure, and the company phones customers weeks before a three-month supply runs out, according to program literature.
The company confirms that prescribing physicians are licensed and all medications are produced in FDA-approved facilities owned by the same companies that market the drugs through U.S.-based outlets, according to program materials.
Employees who do not participate in the CanaRx drug plan spend $20 for a co-pay to obtain pharmaceuticals, those participating don’t pay anything, Russo said.
Russo said the CSEA and municipal labor negotiating teams are forming a committee to consider ways to boost participation which will ultimately increase the savings.
“We’ll meet and try to come up with some different ideas. Maybe we could come up with some better plans, we’re constantly looking for savings,” Russo said.
The medications are produced in countries such as Canada, New Zealand and Australia, and they cost as much as 40 percent less than domestically-produced drugs, officials have said.