Illinois: Rx Buying Club

August 10, 2004


In January 2004, Illinois created a "prescription drug buying club" that pools the purchasing power of the state employees (and enrollees of various state-supported programs) and of up to 2 million senior citizens and people with disabilities, to negotiate discounts with drug manufacturers and pharmacies. In April 2004, for example, state launched a partnership with Walgreens, the nation's largest retail pharmacy chain, to promote and expand Illinois' new Rx Buying Club, and through direct negotiations implemented a new rebate agreement with pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck. The rebates get "passed on" to enrollees in the form of discounts. The program is available to state residents age 65 and over and the disabled. Members pay a $25 annual administrative fee and receive a discount card they can use for buying medication through a mail order program or at more than 50,000 participating pharmacies both in and outside of the state. The club enrolled 62,450 individuals during its first three months (January through March 2004), and achieved average savings of 21 percent.

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October 2004