News Releases
Office of Governor Gary Locke
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - October 26, 2004
Contact:  Governor's Communications Office, 360-902-4136

Gov. Gary Locke Promotes Access to Canadian Drugs through State’s Rx Washington Web Site

OLYMPIA – Oct. 26, 2004 – Gov. Gary Locke today announced that Washington residents will now be able to directly access lower-priced prescription drugs from Canada through the state’s Rx Washington Web site.

“I’ve long worked to make health care and prescription drugs affordable for the people of Washington, especially our senior citizens,” Locke said. “Caring for our seniors is a paramount duty for all of us. We need to provide the care our seniors need, but financial pressures leave our seniors with making a decision every month whether to buy their prescriptions. Some seniors are even rationing their prescription drugs to make them last longer.”

The Web site is a partnership with the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin to provide access to approved Canadian pharmacies that Minnesota has visited and found to be safe, reputable and reliable. The site provides a price comparison for common brand name drugs and hyperlinks to the Canadian pharmacies and offers suggestions for when their use might be appropriate.

Locke also unveiled a Washington retail price comparison information service that will be available on the Rx Washington Web site by Dec. 1. It will provide prices for the most commonly used prescription drugs from a variety of drugstore retailers.

In order to assure that communities in Washington are aware of these new resources, Locke announced workshops that will be held during the next 10 months through a partnership with the state and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). These workshops, scheduled to begin in December, will educate senior citizens about the resources available on the Web site and help them get the best deals on prescriptions drugs.

Approximately 31 percent of Washington state seniors age 65 and older do not have prescription drug coverage, and an additional 500,000 people under age 65 are without insurance. That means a total of 710,000 Washington residents can benefit most from the new prescription drug resources Locke introduced today. Seniors with Medicare discount cards will have additional savings after finding the lowest base price.

Seniors without prescription drug coverage spent an average of $1,190 on prescription drugs in 2003 – $520 more than those who had some form of coverage. Seniors on Medicare spend an average of 22 percent of their income on healthcare.

Other programs that were developed under Locke’s administration include:

Pharmacy Connections Program
The Pharmacy Connections program was established in February 2004 to help Washington residents get information about manufacturer-sponsored prescription drug assistance programs and to help them apply for these programs. The program also serves as a one-stop “clearinghouse” to provide information on other prescription drug resources such as the Medicare discount cards and the Rx Washington card. To date, 25,511 seniors, people with disabilities and other Washington residents without prescription drug coverage have been in touch with the Pharmacy Connections program.

Senior Drug Education Program
The Senior Drug Education program is designed to inform and train persons 65 and older in the safe and appropriate use of prescription and nonprescription medications. Twelve Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) have received state grants to establish local programs. Approximately 900 seniors have received training and future training will incorporate information about the Medicare prescription discount cards and other options available.

Evidence-Based Preferred Drug List
Washington is the first state in the country to develop an Evidence-Based Preferred Drug List (PDL). This preferred drug list is used across all state government health programs including Medicaid, Workers Compensation, the Uniform Medical Plan and Corrections. This approach encourages the use of less expensive, equally safe and effective drugs in state programs and has saved the state over $50 million in the 2003-05 biennium.

Prescription Drug Program
In June 2003, Locke authorized the Prescription Drug Program through Senate Bill 6088 to control state prescription drug spending without reducing the quality of care. This program also provides prescription drugs at an affordable price to those in need and increases public awareness regarding their safe and cost-effective use. It consists of four main components: the Rx Washington card program, the Pharmacy Connections program, the Senior Drug Education program and an Evidence-Based Preferred Drug List.

“It’s exasperating knowing there is medicine available to assist a person who is ill, but they can’t afford it,” Locke said. “It would be nice if the federal government could help facilitate safe and legal drug importation from Canada instead of forcing us to taking matters into our own hands.”

Related Links:
- Rx Washington

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