March 25, 2008
Jefferson City, Mo. — Attorney General Jay Nixon today began distributing the first of $630,000 in technology grants to local health organizations throughout Missouri to help them link seniors and low-income residents with free or low-cost prescription drugs. The grants will help the organizations obtain the necessary computer software, hardware and training to connect Missourians with almost 200 drug distribution programs offered by pharmaceutical companies.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to help hundreds of thousands of Missourians who have difficulty in affording life-saving prescription drugs, all without cost to Missouri taxpayers,” Nixon said.
Nixon’s office today sent out $127,215 in the first round of grant checks, ranging from $1,500 to $14,300, to 46 organizations that submitted successful applications. Nixon said the grants would enable those organizations, which work with seniors and low-income residents, to purchase two-year licenses to use already available software. The software coordinates linking prescription drug patients with matching free or low-cost drug programs from manufacturers. The grants also can be used for hardware or training.
Nixon also announced today that he is extending the deadline for organizations to apply for the grants until April 21, 2008. Any organization that wants to apply for grants from Nixon’s Prescription Drug Access Technology Initiative should do so through the Attorney General’s Web site, ago.mo.gov, or should obtain a hard copy of the application by calling the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-392-8222.
The money for the grants comes from a settlement Nixon reached on Feb. 14 with Caremark Rx LLC, one of the nation’s largest pharmacy benefits management (PBM) companies. Missouri was one of 29 states to reach a settlement with Caremark to resolve concerns about the company’s drug-switching program.
Caremark paid nearly $38.5 million nationwide to the participating states to settle the claims. The settlement required the states to use $22 million of the settlement to benefit low-income, disabled or elderly consumers of prescription medications, to promote lower drug costs for their residents, to educate consumers concerning the cost differences among medications, or for similar purposes. Missouri’s share for that purpose was nearly $630,000. The settlement also required Caremark to significantly change its business practices.