Governor matches up with Walgreen pharmacy to save money on drugs

By Gus Bode

Program exceeds projected goal of 20-percent savings

Factoid:Information about the prescription-buying club can be obtained from a local Walgreens Pharmacy by calling 1-866-215-3463 or going to www.illinoisrxbuyingclub.com

Gov. Rod Blagojevich visited a Walgreens Drug Store near Chicago’s West Side last week, announcing the state’s partnership with the pharmacy and what it will mean for residents across the state.

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“Everybody here knows how expensive prescription drugs can be,” Blagojevich said. “Here in Illinois, we know you need relief – and we know you need it now.”

In January, Illinois launched a prescription-buying club designed to save money for the disabled persons and seniors, regardless of their income bracket.

After paying a $25 administration fee, members are given a discount card they can use at participating pharmacies.

During the program’s first three months, it had an average savings of 21 percent for its 60,000 members.

“The fact is that middle-income seniors who normally aren’t considered low- income or in need, many of them are really having a hard time paying for the expenses and multiple prescriptions that their doctors fill for them,” said Abby Ottenhoff, spokeswoman for Blagojevich. “What they need are answers. And this is just one way to help reduce costs.”

Walgreens volunteered to become a Level One pharmacy, which allows it to offer members the greatest discounts available under the plan.

It will also be used as a source of advertising, setting up posters throughout its stores, providing applications for the program and passing out $25 gift certificates for future prescription purchases to new members.

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Blagojevich announced another joint venture with Merck, a drug manufacturer that will allow card members to receive further savings.

“We continue to look at our options, how we can try to bring more savings to people of Illinois and break down the pricing structure that has caused so many problems for Americans,” Ottenhoff said.

“I think that all of these things are important steps in bringing down the cost of prescription drugs. Changing the way drugs are priced in the United States is a big project, and it will take some time.”

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