Medi-Cal Could Save Millions by Revising Price Caps, Requiring More Generic Drugs, Analysts Say
California could reduce by $700 million per year its spending on prescription drugs for Medi-Cal beneficiaries by requiring beneficiaries to use generic drugs and revising its price-cap list for drug reimbursements, the Orange County Register reports. The state's Medi-Cal prescription drug spending is expected to increase from $2.4 billion in 2001-2002 to $3.8 billion in 2004-2005. A Senate analysis concluded that the state could save $450 million by encouraging beneficiaries to use generic medications, including treatments for cholesterol, muscle inflammation and heart disease. Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento) wants the state to develop a list of Medi-Cal reimbursements that "more closely mirrors what pharmacists pay for drugs," a move that could reduce expenses by $250 million, the Register reports. However, some pharmacists have said that the adjusted payments could mean fewer pharmacists serving Medi-Cal beneficiaries. David Breslow, CEO of Los Angeles-based United Pharmacists Network International, said, "The fat is at the (drug) manufacturer level. Those are the people who are making obscene profits." The state Department of Health Services has told legislative aides that it will not adjust its price list for generic drugs this year because "there's only one pharmacist on staff, and that person is too busy to do the labor-intensive research necessary," the Register reports. Similar drug price revisions, enacted by about a dozen states nationwide, have resulted in savings to the states from 1% to 15%, according to the Register (Quach, Orange County Register, 4/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.