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Attorney General Myers Distributes More Than $435,000 In Caremark Grants

April 1, 2008

Grants to benefit low income residents of Oregon and make lower cost prescription drugs available to all Oregonians.

Attorney General Hardy Myers this week awarded more than $435,000 in grants to two Oregon programs that provide low income Oregonians with assistance in purchasing prescription drugs. The Oregon Primary Care Association (OPCA) of Portland received more than $361,000 and the Oregon Prescription Drug Program (OPDP) of Salem was awarded $75,000 as part of last month's $38.5 million multi-state, settlement agreement with Caremark Rx, LLC (Caremark), one of the nation's largest pharmacy benefits management (PBM) companies.

"We were rewarded twice in this settlement," Myers said. "Not only was the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) able to obtain a far-reaching agreement with a nationwide PBM who will now change its business practices but we were able to distribute more than $435,000 to two exciting Oregon programs that will assist the poor in reducing their monthly prescription drug bills." In addition to this grant money, under the settlement, Oregon will receive $1,000,000 to fund consumer protection efforts."

The OPCA's primary members are 26 community health centers that provide medical, dental and mental health services to low income Oregonians throughout the state.

The grant will purchase medications for Oregonians who otherwise could not afford the drugs or for whom purchase would create an "undue hardship." The clinics are eligible under federal law to use the grant money to purchase drugs at extremely low prices.

"These clinics get a significant "bang for the buck " through their program," Myers explained. "DOJ previously awarded OPCA a $300,000 grant as part of another PBM settlement and the clinics were able to purchase drugs for over 36,000 residents. We expect a similar result with this grant."

"The Oregon Primary Care Association is very pleased to have been awarded this grant to help community health centers purchase pharmaceuticals for their most vulnerable patients," said OPCA Executive Director Craig Hostetler. "One of the critical barriers to achieving good health outcomes for these patients is the lack of financial resources to purchase needed pharmaceuticals. This grant will go a long way in helping address that barrier."

The second grant of $75,000 to the OPDP will fund a public education campaign to promote enrollment in its program, which was created by the 2003 Legislature as a way to increase access to prescription drugs for uninsured and underinsured Oregonians. The program was recently expanded so that all Oregonians with inadequate drug insurance are eligible to participate regardless of income. OPDP "pools" the buying power of individual Oregonians to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs resulting in average discounts of 42 percent. The program currently assists 70,000 Oregonians, about twelve percent of the uninsured population of Oregon.

"Our program is successful today in large part due to DOJ's 2005 grant of more than $100,000 from the Merck/Medco settlement." OPDP Administrator Missy Dolan said. "Now with $75,000 to fund a public education campaign, this program will continue to grow and benefit thousands more Oregonians by giving them access to affordable medications."

Oregon consumers may read more about both programs at their websites at www.orpca.org and www.opdp.org. Consumers wishing to enroll in OPDP should call 1-800-913-4146.

Consumers wanting more information about consumer protection in Oregon may call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392, DOJ is online at www.doj.state.or.us.

Contact:

Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) jan.margosian@doj.state.or.us |
Jennifer Pratt, Policy Director, OPCA, (503) 228-8852 |
Missy Dolan, OPDP, (503) 373-1595 Missy.Dolan@state.or.us |
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