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Prescription drug prices are rising. CT's new discount card could help the patients hit hardest

Pharmacy Tech Yarilis Ruiz works behind the counter at Arrow Pharmacy in Hartford, where officials announced a start date for a new prescription drug discount card called ArrayRx.
Matt Dwyer
Connecticut Public
Pharmacy Tech Yarilis Ruiz works behind the counter at Arrow Pharmacy in Hartford, where officials announced a start date for a new prescription drug discount card called ArrayRx.

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State officials recently announced a new prescription drug discount card will become available in Connecticut starting in October. The card will deliver discounts of 80% for generic medications, and 20% for more expensive name-brand drugs, officials said.

State Comptroller Sean Scanlon's office will oversee the program.

“At a time that the drug costs in this country are going up,” Scanlon said, “for the average family member, business owner, senior, this much-needed relief will be a big savings for the people of Connecticut.”

The card is intended for people with high-deductible health insurance, seniors who need drugs not covered by Medicare, and people without health insurance — including those who are undocumented. The card cannot be used if health insurance or Medicare is also paying for the medication.

Connecticut was able to join as part of an existing prescription drug discount program with three other states, after Connecticut’s legislature approved a bill tackling health care affordability last spring.

The drug discount program is administered by a prescription drug middleman company. The company is a pharmacy benefit manager, Navitus, which has existing contracts with almost all of the pharmacies in the state. It will add new cardholders to its list of people eligible for the discount.

Pharmacy benefit managers have been criticized for making the financial underpinnings of the prescription drug market murky.

“With the existing contract that these pharmacies already have with Navitus, and thanks to the discounts they are getting due to the volume of states joining this coalition, they are able to confer these discounts to every single person in the state,” Scanlon said.

There is no cost to the patient or the pharmacy, Scanlon said. He said the only cost to the state is one employee who will oversee the program.

Pharmacist Ed Anulewicz said the card will be another item in his toolbox, to try to help people buy medicines they need.

“Every day we see people come in that might not be able to afford medications,” he said. “This is another option where we can give people.”

Connecticut residents can apply for a card Oct. 2. The card is only available in a digital form, which could pose a barrier to some of the low-income or elderly people it's intended to help, if they're not able to access the internet.

Matt Dwyer is an editor, reporter and midday host for Connecticut Public's news department. He produces local news during All Things Considered.

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