West Milford Messenger

Comparison Shopping For Prescription Drugs Coming Soon To New Jersey

The West Milford Messenger — Tuesday, August 29, 2006

New Jerseyans in need of prescription medication will be able to comparison shop for less expensive drugs using a state run Web site whose creation was set in motion Monday.

Gov. Jon S. Corzine visited an East Brunswick senior citizens center to sign into law a bill that would create a state Web site listing pharmacy-by-pharmacy retail prices for the 150 most frequently prescribed drugs.

"This makes sense. This is fundamental," Corzine said.

The Web site, slated to be up and running by fall 2007, would be designed to easily allow consumers to find the cheapest prescription drugs. Advocates also say that by increasing competition, prices should drop.

New Jersey would follow New York, Maryland, Illinois and Florida in creating such a Web site.

Under the law, pharmacies will have to report retail prices to the state health department weekly to update the registry. Consumers would log in to the Web site to search drug prices by ZIP code.

For people who don't have Internet access, the registry would be made available in writing to consumers who call a toll-free telephone number.

In a recent study, the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute found an average price difference of $47 in drug prices at chain drug stores in the Mercer County area.

A check of New York's Web site – www.nyagrx.org – showed wide pricing ranges for common drugs.

For instance, Lipitor, a cholesterol-lowering medication, cost $64 to $136 for 30 pills, while the allergy drug Zyrtec cost $55 to $409 for 30 doses. New York officials say the site has helped consumers save $17 per prescription on average.

Consumer advocate group New Jersey Citizen Action has said 20 percent of uninsured New Jerseyans require at least one prescription drug, with 65,000 uninsured residents requiring four prescription drugs.

It's estimated the state would have to spend $1 million to create the Web site.

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