Nevadans will soon be able to save big on prescription drugs after the state joins a coalition negotiating lower drug costs, according to the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services.
Last month, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced that Nevada would join Oregon and Washington in the Northwest Prescription Drug Consortium, a partnership that allows residents to use drug discount cards to buy prescription drugs at a lower cost. The consortium was renamed ArrayRx in 2021.
The drug discount card program is expected to reduce the cost of generic drugs by 80 percent and brand-name drugs by up to 20 percent.
“We are very pleased to welcome Nevada to the Northwest Prescription Drug Consortium,” said Dr. Trevor Douglass, purchasing manager for pharmacies at the Oregon Health Authority. “Now, all Nevadans can access the benefits of our discount card program and begin saving money on needed prescription drugs.”
The discount card program is probably the most visible part of the ArrayRx consortium, but the initiative also offers macro-level drug purchasing services, including a full-service pharmacy benefits management program for public and private groups, and a prescription drug voucher program that insures individuals state prisons or hospitals continue to have access to medicines after release. It is also developing a Medicaid fee-for-service program, where Medicaid pays healthcare professionals directly for each service rendered.
Proposing “real solutions to lower drug prices” was one of Sisolak’s 2018 campaign promises. Find out more about how the program works here.
How does it keep prescription drug costs down?
The consortium, formed in 2006 by a merger of similar drug pricing initiatives in Oregon and Washington, aims to offer lower prescription costs by negotiating rebates by aggregating prescription drug purchase volume.
According to Nevada DHHS spokeswoman Shannon Litz, the drug discount card program is free for the state because of bills passed in the 2021 legislature, including SB380 and SB396, that allow Nevada to partner with other facilities to purchase prescription drugs.
Litz said the consortium also conducts annual market reviews and if any of the drug price guarantees don’t meet expectations, the improved prices are updated. She added that market reviews will be conducted by an independent third party and the process will ensure Nevada receives optimal pricing.
Data shared by the state using examples from Oregon and Washington provide an example of potential cost savings for consumers. The cash price at the retail chain for 30 counts of 20 mg of atorvastatin, a drug commonly used to lower cholesterol, is $127, but the program could bring the cost down to just $6.14. Similarly, five Lantus Solostar 3mL insulin pens may cost $530 at a retail chain, but the program can bring the cost down to about $418.
|drug||Retail chain cash price||Cash price after ArrayRx card discount applied|
|Atorvastatin 20mg #30||$127.00||$6.14|
|Lisinopril 20mg #60||$34.00||$10.35|
|Lantus Solostar pen 3ml/100U (5 pens)||$530.00||$417.99|
Litz said any consumer can check and compare prices online, and she recommends doing so before visiting a pharmacy. She said the ArrayRx website reflects negotiations based on Oregon and Washington participation, and once Nevada is fully implemented and enrolled in the program, there is potential for greater savings as spending power increases.
What medications are eligible for a discount under the program?
Any medications approved by the US Food and Drug Administration that are prescribed by a licensed clinician are eligible for the discount, and there are no formula restrictions, meaning there is no formula list of covered medications. The consortium covers those who are uninsured, underinsured, or have medications with a high co-payment or deductible.
In addition to the generic or brand-name drugs on the market, Slamowitz said, specialty drugs will be available under the program along with a limited selection of vaccines.
When will the program be implemented?
Coordination with the consortium is still in the early stages, said Slamowitz. After system updates and registration of local dispensaries in the state, the program will most likely be ready by the end of the year.
“The benefit of this program is sustainability, serving not only residents but also the pharmacy providers in the state, ensuring everyone using the program is getting the lowest cost prescription drugs,” Slamowitz said.
How do people sign up for the program?
Slamowitz said once the program is implemented, Nevadans can access the online portal and either enroll online or download an enrollment form and send it postage free. She added that people will also have the option to call an 800 number for help registering.
All Nevada residents can enroll regardless of their private insurance. Slamowitz said consumers can choose to use the ArrayRx card, which can be used at 65,000 locations across the country, or use their pharmacy benefit, whichever offers a better price.