Plastic Price Cuts?
U.S. News & World Report (04/15/02) Vol. 132, No. 12 p.74; Comarow, Avery

With drugs becoming so costly--especially among senior citizens and the two out of five people on Medicare who aren't covered for prescription drugs--prescription discount cards have become a popular solution. Some drug stores, drug companies, and organizations like the American Automobile Association offer discount cards to members and customers, promising huge savings on drug costs, but some cards may not be worth the possible enrollment or annual fee. Many cards offer only minor savings, and only for generic drugs; depending on the card, discounts may be based on the average wholesale price--a number already inflated by drug manufacturers. With the variety of prescription discount cards available, research and comparison-shopping are necessary--but may be difficult for senior citizens--those who need the card most. Four pharmaceutical manufacturers have recently issued free cards that allegedly provide some Medicare beneficiaries with 75 percent savings, but limit the patients and drugs covered. Another option could be to follow Canada's example and reduce the cost of some drugs with government price controls.

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