PhRMA Releases Statistics on California Participation in Prescription Drug Discount Programs
About 50,000 California residents have received discounts on prescription drugs through an industry-sponsored Web site since an advertising campaign began in March, according to statistics released last week by the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America, the Sacramento Bee reports. The ads direct consumers to the Rx Help for Californians Web site, as well as a toll-free telephone number, to help determine whether they qualify for discounts on 2,300 different medications.
Ken Johnson, PhRMA senior vice president, said that the group could not determine the effect that the ads have had on participation in prescription drug discount programs. Many pharmaceutical companies have operated such programs for several years.
Supporters of Proposition 79 -- a measure on the Nov. 8 special election ballot that would establish a prescription drug discount program in which pharmaceutical companies would have to participate or face exclusion from the Medi-Cal formulary in some cases -- said that they consider the ads the start of the media campaign for the special election.
However, Kassy Perry, a spokesperson for Rx Help for Californians, said the ads began to air in March before Propositions 78 or 79 qualified for the ballot. Proposition 78, which PhRMA supports, would establish a voluntary prescription drug discount program.
Perry also said that the ads were part of an agreement between PhRMA and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) to establish a clearinghouse for information on prescription drug discount programs (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 8/1).