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Alaska founding partner in first-ever Medicaid
multi-state drug purchasing pool
Pool allows states to negotiate better discounts for prescription drugs


April 23, 2004

Juneau, AK - Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Joel Gilbertson announced Thursday that Alaska, working in concert with Vermont, Michigan, Nevada, and New Hampshire, has established the nation's first multi-state prescription drug purchasing pool to save money on Medicaid drug costs and protect access to care. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson approved the plan today for the drug purchasing pool. Hawaii has also applied to join the multi-state pool.

"This innovative program brings the buying power of five state Medicaid programs to the table, and enables us all to negotiate larger discounts on prescription drugs from pharmaceutical manufacturers," Governor Frank H. Murkowski said. "I am pleased that Alaska has participated with the handful of states taking this step - we are out ahead of the rest of the nation in this program."

"However," Murkowski said, "the most critical thing this multi-state purchasing pool does is protect and preserve health coverage for Alaska seniors and children receiving Medicaid." Prescription drug costs to the State are anticipated to exceed $100 million in FY04.

"This purchasing pool will save the State millions of dollars for Medicaid beneficiaries, and ensure that they receive therapeutically effective prescription drugs at the best price we can negotiate." DHSS Commissioner Joel Gilbertson said. The State is still free to develop a preferred drug list in addition to participating in the drug purchasing pool. The Alaska preferred drug list is under development by DHSS and should be implemented by mid-May, Gilbertson said.

The multi-state pool purchasing power, combined with the Medicaid Preferred Drug List, will save the State up to an estimated $20 million annually. The Medicaid Preferred Drug List will contain costs for prescription drugs provided to those receiving Medicaid. The list will contain recommendations selected by Alaska physicians and pharmacists, on drugs that are proven to be the most efficacious, cost-effective and safe.

According to Commissioner Gilbertson, to date, 27 manufacturers have agreed to provide additional discounts to the participating states. "Other states are interested in joining the pool, and the greater the volume we represent, the better position we'll be in to negotiate larger discounts for Alaska Medicaid beneficiaries," Gilbertson said.

The multi-state prescription drug initiative, which took over a year to win approval from the Federal government, will also benefit federal programs when states reduce their prescription drug expenditures. " Federal Health & Human Services staff serving Alaska worked diligently and successfully for this initiative," Gilbertson said. "The federal government gains substantial savings for the Medicaid program and that ultimately ensures that Medicaid benefits for needy Alaskans can continue."


Source of News Release:

Alaska Department of Health & Social Services
Web Site


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