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Phoenix prescription drug discount cards to benefit public services


The city of Phoenix recently announced a partnership with a private marketing company to give discounts to residents for prescription drugs.

DISCOUNTED: The city of Phoenix recently announced a partnership with a private marketing company to give discounts to residents for prescription drugs. (Photo by Annie Wechter)

The city of Phoenix recently announced a partnership with a private marketing company to provide cheaper prescription drugs to residents while boosting social services.

Phoenix and Financial Marketing Concepts, Inc., a Florida-based company, have created the Coast2Coast Rx card, a discount prescription drug program for people who are uninsured or underinsured, Phoenix Councilman Bill Gates said.

The 300,000 Rx cards are now available in public places such as libraries, community centers and pharmacies across the city at no cost, and anyone can get one.  The program was officially announced Wednesday.

Consumers can save up to an average of 65 percent on brand-name drugs and sometimes up to 95 percent on generic drugs, said Martin Dettelbach, the chief marketing officer for Financial Marketing Concepts, Inc.

There are up to 60,000 different drugs, both brand name and generic, that can qualify for a discount using the Rx card, Dettelbach said.

More than 59,000 pharmacies, both major chains and independents, are participating nationwide, he said.

A pet owner can also use the program for their pet’s medications, Dettelbach said.

A year from now the program can save residents in Phoenix up to $1 million a month if 40,000 cards are filled per month, he said.

The program is already being used in Dallas County in Texas, which was started just over a year ago, and it saved up to $5 million dollars during that year, Dettelbach said.

The cards are intended for anybody who needs to buy prescription drugs and were created in mind for those who are underinsured or have no health insurance at all, he said.

“It does help people with insurance that don't have particular drugs covered,” Dettelbach said, “but it is targeted for uninsured and underinsured as the primary category."

If a drug isn’t covered on a health care insurance plan, the person can use the Rx card for a discount, Dettelbach said.

However, the benefits of the Rx card cannot be used simultaneously with health insurance discounts.

Journalism junior Martin Sanchez, a Phoenix resident, has diabetes and has taken insulin shots for 15 years, but his health insurance covers it, he said.

Insulin shots are used to control the level of blood sugar for people with diabetes.

On average, Sanchez uses two bottles of insulin a month and would normally have to pay $180 for the pair, but with his insurance he only pays $20 each.

“If I didn’t have insurance, I’d definitely look into [the program],” he said.

Phoenix will also benefit from the usage of the card as well, City Manager David Cavazos said.

Every time an Rx cardholder uses the card to buy his or her prescription drugs, the city will receive a small percentage from the purchase, which would be used to pay for public services, Cavazos said.

This can help extend library hours or public safety departments, Cavazos said.

"I can assure for every dollar we get that it's going to go directly back into services for our community," he said. "That means more library hours, more park services, more police and firefighters."

Although the participating pharmacies are losing some revenue by discounting the drugs, they benefit by driving in customers, Dettelbach said.

“It’s a marketing strategy,” he said.

There are no figures on how much the city can save, but Gates said this could keep costs down for residents.

This will help “to keep our taxes and fees down,” Gates said.

The cards can be used nationwide if the pharmacy is accepting them, but depending where the card is from, that respective city will receive the benefits, Dettelbach said.

“This is the first in one of many marketing partnerships we’re going to be doing with the private sector,” Gates said.

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