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Sweeney/Coniglio: Time Is Right For Preferred Drug List

TRENTON – Following today’s Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee hearing on Medicaid fraud and waste detection, Senators Stephen M. Sweeney and Joseph Coniglio renewed their calls to create a statewide preferred drug list (PDL) for all state-run prescription drug benefit programs.

“We’ve had this bill before the Senate for the past three sessions. It’s time to stop delaying on implementing a preferred drug list and move forward with this legislation,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem. “Given what we heard about Medicaid fraud and waste today, the savings a preferred drug list would bring could greatly cut costs and focus more dollars on treatment.”

The Senators are sponsors of bill S-494, which would create the New Jersey Rx Program whose goal would be to reduce prescription drug prices for New Jersey residents. The Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, in consultation with the Rx Program’s Advisory Council, would be required to establish a preferred drug list. Individuals covered under PAAD, Senior Gold, Medicaid or NJ FamilyCare would require prior authorization to receive drugs that are not on the preferred list.

“New Jersey has strived to provide our residents with the most comprehensive prescription drug benefits possible while staying fiscally responsible,” added Senator Coniglio, D-Bergen. “By creating a preferred drug list, we will have additional leverage to negotiate better prices with the pharmaceutical companies, saving the State millions of dollars. With the projected multi-billion dollar budget gap, we can’t afford not to have a PDL in place.”

The New Jersey Rx Program would also act as a pharmacy benefits manager to establish rebate and discount agreements with pharmaceutical companies. Qualified residents, whose income does not exceed 300% of the federal poverty level and are not eligible for another State-funded prescription drug program, would be able to take advantage of these rebates and discounts through the Rx Program. Prescription drugs which are not covered by a rebate agreement would be exempt from the State’s preferred drug list unless either the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services or the Commissioner of Human Services finds that it is in the best interest of program participants to provide the drug.

“In a state of almost 9 million people, we have a lot of collective purchasing power. It’s time that we used this power to get better prices on prescription drugs and save our residents real money,” added Senator Sweeney.

“We live in the pharmaceutical capital of the world – we shouldn’t have to pay as much as we do for prescription drugs. We’ll be joining 31 other states in realizing the savings that a preferred drug list will bring,” explained Senator Coniglio.

The bill is currently awaiting to be considered by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

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