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TUESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Prescription discount card needed; but will it work?

Drug company executives haven't shown lately that they have the best interest of customers in mind when it comes to pricing medications. Americans have always carried the brunt of development costs for pharmaceuticals.

That's a good reason to take a wait-and-see attitude about the Together Rx Access Card program being instituted by 10 major drugmakers.

The companies have unveiled a discount card for people under age 65 who are not eligible for Medicare and have no other private or public drug coverage. Income limits are $30,000 for a single individual and range up to $60,000 for a family of four.

It's also good to see that the companies have included some generic drugs in this program that promises a discount of 25 percent to 40 percent on prescription medications. If generics weren't offered, the companies would be getting richer by pushing only their higher-cost drugs protected by patents.

More than 45 million Americans are uninsured and without prescription coverage. This could be the beginning of a good thing for that group.

Add to that the prescription benefits that many can received through Medicare and Medicaid, and the program has the potential to provide substantial relief for many who currently must choose either medication or groceries; between being sick or being undernourished. If the card turns out to be a boon to America's uninsured millions, the drug companies will deserve praise.

For the sake of the 45 million uninsured, we certainly hope the program works.

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