NY Launches Comparative Pricing Site For Rx

Aug 18, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

New York’s Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer, wants consumers to be able to get
the lowest price possible when buying prescription medicines. That’s why his
office launched www.NYAGRx.org,
an interactive Web site to help the people of New York compare the prices charged
for medicine at different pharmacies.

“By posting the prices of common prescription drugs at pharmacies across the
state on our new Web site, we hope to make it easier for all consumers to comparison
shop and keep their costs as low as possible,” he said.

Mr. Spitzer isn’t looking for the new site to drive consumers to a single store
or chain offering lower prices. His hope is that, armed with this information,
consumers may be able to influence the prices charged by their current pharmacy.

“If you see a lower price for one of your medications on our Web site, you
may want to ask your pharmacy if they will match the lower price,” he said.

In a price study of the 25 most commonly prescribed medications conducted by
Mr. Spitzer’s office last month, it was found that the prices charged for drugs
varied sharply from one pharmacy to the next. The New York Attorney General’s
office surveyed 170 randomly selected pharmacies in 25 counties throughout the

Mr. Spitzer told a news conference that the price charged for a 60-milligram
dosage of Allegra, for example, ranged from $47.20 to $144.97 depending on where
it was purchased.

Consumers without access to a computer with an Internet connection can also
get the same information by calling (800) 333-4114. The pricing information
will be updated on a monthly basis.

Moderator’s Comment: What impact, if any, do you think
New York’s new price comparison Web site for prescription medications will have
on retail pharmacy operations? Should pharmacies be required to publicly post
the unit and purchase price of drugs in a similar fashion for OTC products sold
in the front end of drug stores? Should stores be allowed to advertise the prices
for prescription medicines in the same fashion as they do on non-Rx items?

This is from the www.NYAGRx.org Web site. “More than 5.6
million New Yorkers lack health insurance at some point in a year and may have
had to pay the full price for their medications out of their own pockets. Additionally,
many New Yorkers with insurance lack adequate coverage for prescription drugs
and must buy them at full price.”

George Anderson – Moderator

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