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For Immediate Release
April 27, 2004
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

CURRAN UNVEILS PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICING WEBSITE TO HELP CONSUMERS SAVE MONEY BY COMPARISON SHOPPING

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. today launches a new interactive website to enable consumers to find the retail prices each pharmacy in Maryland charges for 25 of the most commonly-used prescription drugs. the website can be accessed from the Attorney General's website at www.oag.state.md.us “We all know how high prescription drug prices are, and close to one million people in Maryland have no insurance coverage for drugs they depend on,” Curran explains. “But most people do not realize that prices can vary widely from store to store, and they can save a lot of money by comparison shopping,” says Curran.

Among the first of its kind in the country, Curran’s website allows consumers to pull up the prices each pharmacy in a designated zip code charges for the drugs they use. In Maryland, almost 700,000 people under 65 have no health insurance at all, and over 220,000 seniors on Medicare have no prescription drug coverage. Attorney General Curran hopes that more transparency in drug pricing will help the uninsured, many of whom pay the highest prices for drugs and can least afford them.

“The price of almost anything else you buy, from soft drinks to televisions, is well-known - either advertised or posted prominently in the store,” Curran noted. “But the price of drugs is never publicized. We hope that educating people about drug price variations will help them achieve some of the cost savings they desperately need.”

Curran modeled the website after similar projects undertaken by Attorneys General in three other states. Attorney General Curran’s website is the first, however, to use pricing data from pharmacies’ Medicaid reimbursement requests, and thus it can be updated regularly. It also includes all pharmacies in the State of Maryland. While the size of retail price differentials depends on the individual drug, geographic area, and other factors, sample searches on the website reveal some price variations in excess of $100 for a 30-day supply of a single drug.

“ We recognize that more than cost determines where consumers buy their drugs. But a fully informed consumer can make better choices, and people with limited resources should be able to get the best price for the drugs and services they need,” Curran said. A toll free number has also been established to help citizens with this website. The number is 1-866-298-8245.

Two press conferences will be held today to kick-off the new website. At 10:00 a.m. Attorney General Curran will be at the Bykota Senior Center at 611 Central Avenue in Towson, Maryland.
At 1:00 p.m. Attorney General Curran will be at the Margaret Schweinhaut Senior Center at 1000 Forest Glen Road, Silver Spring, Maryland. At both locations senior citizens will have computer access to visit the new website.

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UPDATE

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Unfortunately, The Drug Price Finder website was discontinued in early 2010. The source of data for the application became less and less accurate over time due to a number of factors beyond the control of the Maryland Attorney General's Office.  Concern rose that the drug price finder would mislead consumers with bad information.  

Drug price information came from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene medicare prescriptions, which is in itself not truly reflective of general prescriptions in Maryland for all consumers.  Statistical data on use of the drug price finder web site showed a long downward trend of people coming to the drug price finder, but not going to the search results page.  This was an indication that users were not finding the drugs they were searching for. 

Due to the limited availiblity of usable data, it became impossible to accurately assess prescription trends in Maryland and adjust the drug list to improve results for consumers.  At that point it was reluctantly decided to discontinue the Drug Price Finder. 

The drug price finder was the first of its kind, and many other state’s Attorney General’s Offices followed our lead.  Many of them have now discontinued their sites for similar reasons.

Maryland State law does not require pharmacies to report drug pricing.  The Maryland Attorney General's Office has advocated for legislation that would change this, but it has not yet passed in the Maryland General Assembly.

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