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Mayor to push plan for generic medicine

28-Aug-2006: Duluth Mayor Herb Bergson said last week he'll embrace policy changes that could save the city of Duluth more than expected on prescription drug spending.

Recommendations from a seven-member committee could save the city $1.5 million annually, or nearly twice the $800,000 originally reported, and exceeding a Duluth City Council-commissioned task force recommendation earlier this year.

More than half of the estimated $1.5 million in savings will be secured if employees and retirees increase use of generics from 50 percent of the time to 65 percent.

The projected savings are expected to make a small dent in the city's $301 million retiree health-care liability.

Other practices also will save money, said Randall Siefert, head of the University of Minnesota Duluth's pharmacy school. He and six others, including a city staff member, two UMD pharmacy students, a union leader and two members of the Minnesota Citizens Federation made up the seven-member committee.

Prescriptions would be reimported if generics aren't available, and employees would be charged more if they choose brand-name drugs over generics.

"Generics save everyone money," Bergson said in a statement. "We want to provide a reasonable scenario for those who must buy name-brand drugs, but for cases where generics are available, we want to provide a stronger incentive for employees to do the right thing for their pocketbooks as well as for the city's."

The committee recently asked Bergson to consider a new program, called the medication therapy management process, which asks patients, pharmacists and physicians to collaborate on treatment. The process requires startup money, but could save the city even more, Seifert said, and increase treatment outcomes and patient satisfaction.

Source: Duluth News Tribune

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