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Dramatic Cost Discrepancies Revealed in AG's Investigation of Drug Prices Statewide

Statewide Prices for Identical Drug vary by as much as $128

LANSING, Mich., May 17, 2007 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An investigation of prescription drug prices by Attorney General Mike Cox revealed staggering cost differences between identical prescription drugs across the state, including price differences of more than $100 within a community for the same dosage of the same drug.

During the week of May 7-11, 2007, Attorney General investigators surveyed 200 pharmacies in 10 different communities across the State. Cox's team investigated the prices of 11 commonly prescribed drugs that do not appear on the Department of Community Health's drug-price website, which only provides pricing information for 30 drugs. The communities surveyed included Detroit, Marquette/UP, Flint area; Saginaw/Bay City area; Troy; Kalamazoo area; Lansing area; Grand Rapids; Warren; and the Traverse City area.

"It's a tragedy that Michigan does not have a broad-based, user-friendly, interactive drug cost website. The people of Michigan are the ones who are, quite literally, paying the price," said Cox.

"The results of our investigation are staggering. A senior in Detroit could pay as much as $102.00 more for the identical prescription drugs only a matter of miles apart; a consumer in Traverse City could pay as much as $128.00 more for identical drugs; and a consumer in Lansing could pay as much as $98.99 more for identical drugs in Lansing.

"The drugs we surveyed are all commonly prescribed drugs, none of which are listed on the DCH website. In fact, the DCH website has no drugs listed to treat a number of diseases that commonly afflict seniors, such as diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer or Alzheimer's. An expanded 150 drug website is long overdue."

The drug survey investigation follows a previous round of surveys conducted during January, February, and May of last year.

Both in Lansing and across the State of Michigan, prices for the 11 surveyed drugs varied greatly. For example;

    -- Lansing: Ambien cost $188.99, 11 miles away the same drug cost only

       $90.00, a difference of $98.99.

    -- Detroit: Ambien cost $178.00, less than 5 miles away the same drug cost

       $80.00, a difference of $98.00.

    -- Statewide: Avandia cost $300.00, the same drug could be found as low as

       $171.20, a difference of $128.00.

"Other states, such as Minnesota, New York, and New Jersey, list 150 or more drugs on their drug-pricing websites. That added information gives their consumers the ability to save money on a wide variety of prescriptions -- not just 30," said Cox. "The DCH drug pricing website needs to increase the number of drugs listed from 30 to 150 so that Michigan consumers can spend their healthcare dollars more effectively.

"And other states do a much better job of marketing their websites. Florida's site saw more than 220 thousand visitors its first year. New York State's website attracted half-a-million hits its very first day, and averages almost 200,000 visitors a month.

"More than 1.1 million Michigan citizens are uninsured. This information can help seniors, the uninsured, the underinsured, and consumers save money immediately. According to states that have broad-based drug cost websites, consumers saved an average of $17.36 per prescription. For the average senior with four prescriptions, that's a yearly savings of more than $833 dollars."

"I call on the department to help seniors and consumers by expanding the drug website," Cox concluded.

Results of the drug survey are available at http://www.michigan.gov/ag.

Mike Cox

CONTACT: Rusty Hills or Matt Frendewey, +1-517-373-8060, both of theOffice of Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox

Web site: http://www.michigan.gov/ag//

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Posted: May 2007


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