North Township using new online database to curb prescription drug costs

2013-03-05T18:45:00Z 2013-03-05T22:01:51Z North Township using new online database to curb prescription drug costsChelsea Schneider Kirk, (219) 933-3241

North Township hopes to trim costs on providing prescription drugs to clients through a new online database, Trustee Frank Mrvan said.

The township began using DataRX six weeks ago to manage the prescription aid given to eligible township residents and plans to roll out the program to other interested townships by May.

The program allows the township to compare prices of prescription drugs and see generic alternatives available in local pharmacies more efficiently, Mrvan said. Prior to DataRX, the township had to contact each pharmacy individually before giving the client a voucher to fill a prescription.

“There were no checks and balances to find out if we were getting gouged or not — to be brutally honest,” Mrvan said.

Mrvan said the program already has saved the township more than $3,000 in prescription costs when comparing the retail costs of the drugs to what the township paid when it shopped prices.

Under the new system, clients will pay up to $4 toward the cost of filling the prescription.

North Township worked with Jerry Fagen, director of pharmacy of Fagen Pharmacy, in choosing and implementing the program, Mrvan said. The idea for finding an online database came out of a 2011 meeting at which townships met to discuss ways the local governments could collaborate, Mrvan said.

Currently, North Township budgets between $100,000 to $150,000 to cover prescription drugs, which accounts for about 15 percent of its poor relief, Mrvan said.

“It makes our caseworkers more efficient with time. And when you deal with human services, there is added pressure when people are waiting, sitting around, not only on the caseworker but the client,” Mrvan said.

If the prescription allows for a pharmacist to substitute a name-brand drug with a generic, then North Township pays the cheapest price it can find, North Township Deputy Chief Jane Dudley said.

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