Few take advantage of drug buying program

Wisconsin State Roundup

Published January 1, 2005  | January 2005 issue

Last February, the state announced to great fanfare the creation of a Web site that would allow citizens to buy drugs cheaper from Canada. However, through last August, it appeared that the site hadn't been widely used, and its popularity seemed to be dropping.

The Canadian pharmacies that contract with the service filled 2,299 prescriptions by August, compared with 3,000 for the first six months of a similar program in Minnesota. In addition, the number of prescriptions filled monthly declined from 765 in the first month to 364 in August.

An explanation might be that a relatively high proportion of citizens are covered by insurance, in addition to those receiving state health care services.

The site also competes with other services that offer drugs from Canada, some of which require far less paperwork.

A state pharmacy association also raised concerns about the safety of drugs obtained through the program. Complaints it listed included sending unauthorized prescriptions. State officials said they've begun to address those problems.

Joe Mahon