April 27, 2004
UNVEILS PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICING WEBSITE TO HELP CONSUMERS SAVE
MONEY BY COMPARISON SHOPPING
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
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
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.
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
variations will help them achieve some of the cost savings
they desperately need.”
modeled the website after similar projects undertaken by Attorneys
General in three other states. Attorney General
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.
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.
locations senior citizens will have computer access to visit the
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.