The Goodhue County prescription drug discount card has been very helpful for county residents in the first year following its launch. Since April 17, 2006, 1,213 county residents have filled 1,966 prescriptions with the cards at discounts averaging almost 17 percent, or $6.61 per prescription.

Almost 60 percent of the time, the discount card provided a better price than the pharmacy could provide, and this has resulted in a savings of about $17,737 for county residents.

Goodhue County launched the program to help residents cope with the high price of prescription drugs. These free prescription drug discount cards are available under a program sponsored by the National Association of Counties that offers average savings of 20 percent off the retail price of commonly prescribed drugs.

Best of all, there is no cost to county taxpayers for NACo and Goodhue County to make these cards available to our residents.

Goodhue County and NACo have been restocking the cards, which were reissued earlier this month. Locations of the cards can be found by going to the county Web site, www.co.goodhue.mn.us, or call Susan Brace-Adkins at (651) 385-6112 or (800) 950-2142.

Coping with prescription drug costs was one of the top six health priorities developed by a group of county residents in March 2005. Many people nationally and locally have difficulty affording health insurance, let alone prescription medications.

Most calls that come in requesting the cards are from residents who have too much income to qualify for government programs but not enough to purchase private prescription drug insurance.

According to a Kaiser Foundation report in June 2006, prescription drug costs make up a small portion in the national health care spending when compared to hospital and physician costs. However, it has been growing at double-digit rates since the 1990s compared with hospital and physician costs, that also have increased, but only at single-digit rates. How do we account for this increase in spending?

  • The number of prescriptions bought nationally has increased 71 percent from 1994-2005, while the U.S. population has only increased by 9 percent.
  • Retail prescription drug prices have increased from an average of $28.67 in 1994 to an average of $64.86 in 2005.
  • New prescription drugs that supplement existing drug treatments or treat conditions that didn't use drug therapy in the past can increase total prescription drug spending.
  • Advertisements directed at consumers increased 5 percent from 2004-2005 for a total of $4.2 billion spent on consumer-directed advertisements in 2005.
  • Profits from pharmaceutical companies are declining, but these companies still showed a profit of 16 percent in 2005 compared to 6 percent for all Fortune 500 firms.