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January 20, 2005

Governor Blagojevich offers assistance and support to help Connecticut set up prescription drug importation program

CHICAGO- Today, Governor Rod Blagojevich announced his full support of Connecticut lawmakers’ effort to help their citizens import safe, affordable prescription drugs from Canada and Europe and offered to help in any way possible.  Connecticut’s proposed plan is similar to Governor Blagojevich’s I-Save Rx program, which was the first state sponsored program in the nation to allow residents to import prescription drugs from state inspected and approved suppliers in Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. 


“We launched I-SaveRx to help our seniors and working families get the medications their doctors say they need, but at prices they can afford.  Too often, people in the United States are forced to choose between paying for groceries or paying for their medicine – they can’t afford both.  The federal government has failed to act and states across the nation are starting to address the problem on their own,” said Governor Blagojevich.  “I am encouraged and in full support of Connecticut’s effort to import prescription drugs from Canada and Europe.  We are eager to share the research and expertise we’ve gained from launching the I-SaveRx program.”


Illinois first began exploring the feasibility of drug importation in September of 2003 when the Governor commissioned a study on the pharmaceutical system in Canada.  In the spring of 2004, the Governor expanded the review to Europe as well.  Public health and regulatory experts from the State researched the pharmaceutical systems in Canada and Western Europe to determine if the systems were safe and if Illinoisans could realize significant savings by purchasing medications from foreign sources.  In August 2004, the Governor’s prescription drug advocates released their final report indicating that – like Canada – the European prescription drug system was well-regulated and was able to provide the same medications available in the United States at much lower prices.


Connecticut’s proposal would allow residents to import prescription drugs from Canada and Europe through a foreign pharmaceutical benefits manager (PBM).  The I-Save Rx program works in the same fashion – Illinois and its partner states have contracted with a Canadian PBM to maintain the network of more than 60 approved pharmacies and to administer the program.  The PBM oversees multiple safeguards that have been put in place to ensure the authenticity and safety of imported prescription drugs. 


Gov. Blagojevich launched I-SaveRx on October 4, 2004, and extended an invitation to other states to join the program.  Participants in the I-SaveRx plan can save an average of 25 to 50 percent on the cost of the most common name-brand medications used to treat chronic conditions. 


Residents of Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri and Kansas can begin the enrollment process or get more information by visiting the website, www.I-Saverx.net, or calling toll-free, 1-866-ISAVE-33.  The clearinghouse provides users with information on the list of medications included in the program, prices in each of the three countries and enrollment forms and guidance. 


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