Illinois launches new cost-saving drug plan

By Gus Bode

Illinois, Wisconsin residents to save on prescription drugs

Factoid:To learn more about the I-SaveRx prescription drug program, call 1-866-ISAVE33 or by visiting

CHICAGO-The launch of the new prescription drug import program, I-SaveRx was announced Monday by Gov. Rod Blagojevich and U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, along with Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle.


The new program, which Blagojevich said, “is now open for business,” allows all Illinois and Wisconsin residents to purchase prescription drugs at a lower cost from participating countries.

I-SaveRx is the first program of its kind in the nation. The governor and Emanuel have been working on the program for more than a year, said Liz Smith, Emanuel’s spokeswoman.

In addition to saving consumers money, Smith said the program was initiated in part because “the federal government hasn’t acted.” A bill regarding the purchase of prescription drugs from other countries was passed in the House in July, but is still waiting Senate approval.

The prescription drug program is expected to affect nearly 13 million Illinois residents and an additional five million Wisconsin residents, Blagojevich said.

I-SaveRx works through a network of 45 pharmacies and wholesalers in Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland. The pharmacies are inspected and approved by Illinois agencies to ensure safety, said Melanie Fonder, spokeswoman for the Wisconsin governor.

Fonder said Wisconsin already had a similar program, but only provided consumers with three pharmacies to purchase their prescriptions from.

“This will provide a large range of options,” Fonder said of I-SaveRx. “It has the potential to save a lot of money.”


At Monday’s press conference, Blagojevich said the program could potentially save consumers thousands of dollars on prescription costs. He encouraged other states to join in and sent out letters Monday to the governors of 48 other states.

In addition to all Wisconsin and Illinois residents, Blagojevich and Doyle are focusing on residents who do not have prescription coverage and senior citizens.

Blagojevich will begin an outreach campaign in Illinois this week to educate seniors about the new program. The Departments of Aging and Public Health are also working on spreading information to Illinois senior citizens.

Even though all Illinois and Wisconsin residents are eligible for the program, consumers must first enroll with I-SaveRx clearinghouse, which is administered by CanaRx.

Enrollees must have their doctor send or fax a health profile form along with a signed prescription. The clearinghouse will then check the prescription for appropriateness using the same software Illinois pharmacies use.

If passed, the prescription will be sent to a physician from the country the medication will be ordered from. A final safety check to comply with laws and regulations will be completed.

Once enrolled, consumers can use the I-SaveRx website and toll-free number to compare prices of prescription drugs from the provided countries.