As the recession continues to take its toll on consumers, a rising number of U.S. counties are participating in a discount prescription drug program offered through the National Association of Counties (NACo).


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Counties flock to discount Rx program

May 19th, 2009

WASHINGTON – As the recession continues to take its toll on consumers, a rising number of U.S. counties are participating in a discount prescription drug program offered through the National Association of Counties (NACo).

Over 1,200 of the nation's 3,068 counties have enrolled in the NACo Prescription Drug Discount Card Program, and the association says more are joining each month.

Under the program, families living in participating NACo-member counties sign up and receive free discount cards, with no age, income or health restrictions. All commonly prescribed prescription medications are eligible for a discount, according to the association.

The average savings is 23% off the retail price that consumers would pay at a pharmacy, NACo says. Depending on the medication, the savings can range from 13% to 34%, and consumers can save up to 50% on mail-order purchases.

Consumers who do not have prescription drug insurance are eligible for the discounts, as are those who need a certain drug that is not covered by their insurance.

Approximately 60,000 retail pharmacies nationwide accept the NACo discount card. Participating chains include CVS Caremark Corp., Walgreen Co., Rite Aid Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Many independently owned and operated drug stores also honor the card.

According to NACo, counties have helped consumers save more than $179 million on over 15 million prescription purchases since the program began five years ago.

"These are truly valuable cards that counties are making available to American families at no cost to taxpayers," NACo president Don Stapley, a county supervisor in Maricopa County, Ariz., said in a statement. "Many families are struggling to make ends meet. By taking advantage of the savings available with the NACo card, families are able to use those extra dollars on other necessities."

The prescription discount program was created in late 2004 as a 17-county pilot in conjunction with CVS Caremark. The NACo board made the the program available to member counties nationwide in May 2005.

CVS Caremark negotiates the discounts directly with the pharmacies and drug manufacturers, according to NACo, which says that neither the association nor the participating counties get any revenue from the program.

"NACo has been a dedicated partner with CVS Caremark to make the free NACo Prescription Discount Card program available to counties and their residents," comments Kirby Bessant, vice president of consumer programs at CVS Caremark.

NACo Membership Committee chairman Tim Loewenstein, a county commissioner in Buffalo County, Neb., has the discount card program in his county and points out its benefits to other county officials.

"Usually in government we ask for taxpayer money and provide a service in return," Loewenstein stated. "But with this program, counties are providing a valuable service directly to families at no cost to them."

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