County Continues To See Drug Savings Through Canadian Rx Mail Order

The county continued to save money this year under its Canadian prescription drug program, county officials said Friday……

Schenectady County continues seeing drug savings

Costs may go down by over $550,000 this year

Stephen Williams @gazettesteve

| November 3, 2017

SCHENECTADY COUNTY — The county continued to save money this year under its Canadian prescription drug program, county officials said Friday.

Based on data through Sept. 30, medication costs were down 15.25 percent from a year earlier. That puts the county on track to save more than $554,000 this year, compared with what it spent on drugs in 2016, according to county officials. Those savings are in line with what was projected when the county last year hired ProAct, of East Syracuse, to be the program’s pharmacy benefit manager.

“This cost reduction in 2017 is the direct result of the county competitively bidding its pharmacy benefit management service and obtaining significant cost savings,” said county Legislator Grant Socha, C-Glenville, chairman of the county’s Committee on Civil Service. “We did this by obtaining union agreement through the collective bargaining process.”

The county has been buying employees’ prescription medications through a mail-order plan with Canadian pharmacies since 2004. Pharmacy drug prices in Canada are generally lower than they are in the United States.

Schenectady County was the first county in the state to buy prescription drugs from Canada, though Albany and Rensselaer counties now do, as well.

Legislator Rory Fluman, chairman of the Committee on Intergovernmental Cooperation, said the year’s projected costs, at just over $3 million, were less than the county paid in 2001, before it began purchasing from Canada.

The plan covers about 1,700 county employees and their family members, with about 95 percent of employees participating, though they aren’t required to.

The city of Schenectady is also part of the drug-buying arrangement, though towns in the county aren’t.

The state-mandated shared services plan that the county developed this summer proposed extending the Canadian pharmarcy arrangement to the towns, and also including them under the county’s health care plan, which would presumedly give them additional bargaining power in negotiation with health-care insurance providers.

Letting the towns, villages and school districts in the county join the plan would require an act of the state Legislature.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, swilliams@dailygazette.netor @gazettesteve on Twitter.