Wisconsin, Illinois Launch Prescription Drug Importation Program
Illinois and Wisconsin are starting up the first state-sponsored program to help residents buy cheaper prescription drug refills from both Europe and Canada. The states launched the program Monday, defying federal laws banning prescription drug imports.
The program is called I-Save-Rx. It works through a Canada-based clearinghouse and claims it can save residents 25 to 50 percent off U.S. retail prices on about 100 medications.
By including pharmacies in Ireland and the United Kingdom, I-Save-Rx goes beyond programs in other states that direct residents on how to buy prescription drugs from Canada. "The system relies only on pharmacies that have passed a rigorous inspection by Illinois and verified by Wisconsin," Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle said.
According to the governor's offices, consumers can only order refills, so patients and their doctors have had time to review their prescription drug usage for side effects or drug interactions. Also, the list of available drugs through I-Save-Rx is limited to those that are used for long periods of time, and cannot spoil during shipping.
Before ordering, new enrollees must mail or have their doctor fax a completed health profile form and signed prescription to the I-Save-Rx clearinghouse, which is administered by CanaRx. The prescription is processed through several safeguards, including a comparison for possible drug interactions.
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich says the program could help many of the 13 million Illinois residents and more than five million who live in Wisconsin save hundreds of dollars each year.