Nevada joins Oregon, Washington in prescription drug discount program

By: - September 23, 2022 6:07 am

Nevadans can enroll online to receive their free digital discount card, which applies to all Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved prescriptions, including insulin, psychiatric drugs and asthma medication. (Photo by Árpád Czapp on Unsplash)

Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak Thursday announced the launch of ArrayRx, a prescription drug discount card, which he said will help Nevadans save up to 80% on generic prescription drugs and 20% on name brand prescription drugs regardless of income, age, or citizenship. 

Nevada joins Oregon and Washington in ArrayRx Solutions, formerly known as Northwest Prescription Drug Consortium, which allows the states to negotiate lower prices through aggregating purchase volume. Sisolak announced the program in February at the State of the State address.  

ArrayRx Solutions’ origins began in Washington, when the state’s legislature wanted to find a solution to rising costs for prescription drugs. In 2006, Washington and Oregon partnered to form the Northwest Prescription Drug Consortium and use the states’ combined resources to lower costs by negotiating discounts with manufacturers and establishing discounts based on volume purchasing.

Nevadans can enroll online to receive their free digital discount card, which applies to all Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved prescriptions, including insulin, psychiatric drugs and asthma medication.

Fifteen counties in the state now have access to the service, with efforts underway to have pharmacies in Esmeralda and Storey, said Beth Slamowitz, the Department of Health and Human Services senior policy advisor on pharmacy.

Pharmacy deserts are low-income communities that either have limited access to cars and are more than half a mile away from a pharmacy or are more than a mile away from a pharmacy regardless of access to a car, according to research tying pharmacy access to health outcomes by University of Illinois.

“There are definitely pharmacy deserts that exist in this state as they exist in all states, especially in the rural areas,” she said. “There are over 50,000 participating pharmacies in the United States and the card can be used outside of state borders.” 

In Nevada, there are more than 40 towns that are more than 10 miles away from the nearest pharmacy, several near the border of Oregon, according to the state pharmacy desert map by the telehealth company, Telepharm. 

The interstate collaboration of the program allows individuals living in a pharmacy desert near the border of Oregon to use the discounts there or to use them in Washington state, Slamowitz said.

In those 15 Nevada counties currently participating, 94% of pharmacies are participating, with 11 of those counties having 100% of their pharmacies participating. The ArrayRx discount card can be used at larger pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS alongside independent pharmacies like Refill Pharmacy, where the press conference was held, she said.

The card can also be used for vaccination and some over-the-counter drugs.

The program will most benefit those with high deductible plans or those who are uninsured or underinsured. It will also increase access to prescription medications for low income families and those who are non-citzens or undocumented, Slamowitz said.

While an in-state address is required, it can be any Nevada address – allowing more transient and at-risk populations to gain access to prescriptions.

Each time a pharmacy submits a claim to ArrayRx, it charges a transaction fee that is less than $2, but that fee is incorporated into the discount that the pharmacy has agreed to in order to participate in the program.

Nevada lawmakers strengthened the Nevada Drug Transparency Program with Senate Bill 380, which mandates the state to track the pricing of prescription drugs over $40. A separate measure, Senate Bill 396, allows the state to enter into multi-juridstriction purchasing agreements like ArrayRx to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.

The program allows people to choose the best price between their insurance or ArrayRx. However, the price on ArrayRx may not always be the best deal.

During the Aug. 17 Interim Finance Committee meeting, the state approved $250,000 in funding for public service campaigns in English and Spanish to promote the new service. Those announcements have not been launched yet. 

“Between 2003 and 2022, 1.2 million participants in Oregon and Washington benefitted from the ArrayRx services,” said Donna Sullivan, chief pharmacy officer for the Washington Health Care Authority. “We welcome the residents of Nevada to receive the same prescription drug discounts through the ArrayRx Card.”

Each household member does need to enroll for their own card. To enroll in the free program, Nevadans can visit arrayrxcard.com

“It’s simple to sign up and then all you gotta do is go to the counter, you’re going to see how much the prescription is going to cost and it’s going to cause significant savings for a lot of people,” Sisolak said.

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Camalot Todd
Camalot Todd

An award-winning, investigative and enterprise reporter, Camalot Todd has over seven years experience in print, digital, radio and TV journalism. She covered mental and behavioral health in New York for Spectrum News 1 Buffalo through the national service program, Report For America, where she won the Mental Health Advocates of WNY Advocacy Award in 2020 for her coverage on mental health stigma. She also served as an inaugural member of the Report For America Corps Advisory Board Member, 2021-2022. Previously, she reported on community issues in Las Vegas, including a long-term project on underage sex trafficking, for the Las Vegas Sun and its sister publication, Las Vegas Weekly. For the Sun, she wrote a pathbreaking investigative piece called, “Children on the Cusp: The transition from foster care to adulthood is leaving some behind.” The piece won the Nevada Press Association best investigative story of the year and named Camalot the Best Community Reporter of 2017. She also worked as a reporter for KUNV radio and is a graduate of University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Camalot was selected for National Press Foundation Opioid and Addiction Fellow 2021 and led the Syracuse Press Club's Journalism Lab as an educator from 2021-2022.

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