State Drops Plan for Arkansas Rx Program

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The state has dropped its planned Arkansas Rx discount drug program due to a lack of interest among residents eligible to participate.

The Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services spent about $510,000 to promote the program and guage how many Medicaid recipients would use the service to buy their prescription drugs.

The idea was to have the state negotiate lower prices from drug manufacturers and pass the savings on to people in the program.  The state expected 20,000 to sign up.

Department spokeswoman Julie Munsell says interest was too low for the state to leverage significant discounts from drug makers.  Since the program was approved in 2005, Medicare began prescription drug coverage and Wal-Mart began selling a range of generic prescription drugs for $4 for a month's supply.  Munsell says those factors combined to change the market climate from when the program was begun.

She said about 2,800 people expressed interest in using the program.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)