JANUARY 01, 2007

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) board of directors approved a higher charge per prescription for pharmacists in their state. The new formula for determining the raised prices is based on the cost of dispensing multisource generic drugs. The cost, which was last adjusted in December 2004 to $8.30 per prescription, is expected to go as high as $9 this month, when the provisions of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 go into effect. The goal of the directive from Congress is to remedy the difference in the costs of ingredients in the generic drugs, compared with their brand-name counterparts.

According to Nancy Nesser, DPh, JD, pharmacy director for the OHCA, the approved increase should not alter the cost of the drugs to patients, and it is expected to reduce overall costs to the state by 25%. She said, however, that pharmacists were expected to encourage more purchases of brand name drugs, which could lead to higher costs for the state and patients alike.The changes were not scheduled to go into effect any earlier than January 2007 and could take as long as 7 months; the new formula laid out in the legislation is not being required by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services until July.