Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Utah's Pharmacy Tourism Program includes the MS drugs Aubagio, Avonex, Copaxone, and Tecfidera

A post on "medical tourism" at vox.com titled Why Utah is sending workers to Mexico to buy medicine begins:

The insurance plan for Utah government employees decided two years ago it had to do something to curb prescription drug costs.
Its solution? Pay for workers to travel to Canada or Mexico to buy the same medications they’d been getting in the United States, just at much lower prices.

Today, the Utah insurer is saving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on drugs for a handful of patients who need expensive medicines and make the trip abroad to get them. It’s not as much as they were originally hoping for, but enough that paying airfare plus a $500 bonus is still a worthwhile deal for the state to make.

Utah's Pharmacy Tourism Program includes several drugs used for the treatment of multiple sclerosis [MS}:

To help you save money on your prescriptions, PEHP offers members who are not enrolled in Medicare the option to fill select medications (from table below) at a designated pharmacy tourism location in Canada or Mexico. If you’re enrolled in the Traditional Plan, the medications are covered by your PEHP pharmacy benefit at no extra cost. If you’re enrolled in The STAR HSA Plan, the cost is covered by your PEHP pharmacy benefit once you meet your deductible. The PEHP Pharmacy Tourism Program allows you to fill 90-day supply of medications you are currently taking.

If you want to fill a prescription (from table) from a designated pharmacy in Canada or Mexico, PEHP will coordinate travel and cover the following costs associated with the program:

Roundtrip airfare from Salt Lake City International Airport to either San Diego or Vancouver International Airport
If needed, transportation to and from clinic location and/or overnight hotel stay
You are responsible for food expenses and the cost to acquire a passport, Visa, etc. Please visit travel.state.gov for travel requirements to Canada and Mexico.

Medications currently included in the PEHP Pharmacy Tourism Program

» Aubagio 14mg

» Avonex

» Copaxone 40mg

» Tecfidera

See also the piece on NPR Utah Funds Public Employees Traveling To Mexico, Canada To Save Money On Costly Prescription Drugs
by Peter O'Dowd on 14 February 2020 which includes the text:

The cost of international airfare to get drugs available in the U.S. may sound expensive. But PEHP managing director Chet Loftis
says the program has saved the nonprofit around $250,000 since just last year when it started.

“There are certain drugs that cost an awful lot of money. We're talking about $50,000 for a year,” Loftis says. “And in those situations,
the variance between the cost of the drug here in the United States and what's available either in Canada or Mexico is such that it makes economic sense for us to be able to send them to those locations.”

See also

Trump administration unveils plan to allow states to buy cheaper drugs from Canada


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