GENERIC FORMULARY COMES UNDER FIRE IN RHODE ISLAND

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

Self-styled "mental health advocates" have accusedMedicaid officials in Rhode Island of jeopardizing thehealth of mentally ill patients by encouraging the use oflower-cost generic drug treatments. The state's newemphasis on generic medicines came in the wake ofefforts by Rhode Island lawmakers to authorize the use ofa preferred drug list designed to control costs by limitingthe medications that will be covered by Medicaid.

During a hearing by state health officials on that formulary,representatives of the National Alliance onMental Illness urged Medicaid administrators to exemptthe mentally ill from the new requirements. Noting thatdoctors must often try several drugs to treat mentally illpatients before finding one that works, officials fromthe alliance said thatforcing these individualsto switch to generic versionscould have "devastating" consequencesfor their treatment.

Antipsychotic drugsare specifically excludedfrom the proposed newRhode Island formularysystem. Mental healthadvocates want the stateto create similar exclusionsfor antidepressant,antianxiety, and anticonvulsantdrugs.