State workers’ drug costs rise despite new restrictions

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Prescription drug costs for Connecticut state employees have increased despite restrictions that were designed to save about $24 million, according to new data.

The statistics from the state comptroller show that taxpayers funded almost $332 million in prescriptions for the 200,000 participants in the state health program during the year that ended June 30, The Hartford Courant reported.

That number is up by about $53 million, or about 19 percent, from the previous year.

Comptroller Kevin Lembo, who’s in charge of running the state employees’ health plan, said the increase is due to the general skyrocketing costs in the national pharmaceutical market. He said in congressional testimony recently submitted to a U.S. House committee that prices for name-brand medications and generics are rising at an alarming rate.

“The factors behind rising pharmacy costs include market consolidation, new pricing models and outright profiteering. Projections indicate no future relief as pharmacy costs are expected to continue to rise at an exorbitant rate in the coming years,” he said.

An average of $2.2 million has been saved monthly due to new restrictions on compounded medicines, according to a report to the comptroller by CVS/Caremark for the period of May 15 to Oct. 31. Compounded drugs are mixtures of medicines typically produced by big, out-of-state pharmacies.

In May, Lembo imposed a “prior authorization” requirement for compounded medicines under which a prescribing doctor has to demonstrate “medical necessity” before the payment is approved by CVS/Caremark, the state’s health benefits manager.

A spokeswoman with the state Attorney General’s office said Friday that an investigation into a recent spike in costs for compounded medicines is “active and ongoing.”

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Information from: Hartford Courant, http://www.courant.com

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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