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Published: Sunday, 10/5/2003

Help with drug costs

Maybe there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to coping with the extravagant cost of prescription drugs. The plan unveiled by Gov. Bob Taft last week will ease 2 million older Ohioans' burden of paying for costly prescriptions.

The program is the result of negotiations between lawmakers, drug firms, and pharmacies, and it was announced soon after the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs revealed its agreement with pharmaceutical firms that will also assist low-income Ohioans of any age.

These efforts recognize the difficulty many residents have buying prescription medications and represent a belated effort to help them out. It's a national disgrace that so many American elderly often go without other essentials so they can pay for expensive medications.

Some cut down on the prescribed dosage to try to make their medication last longer, but that further jeopardizes their health.

Governor Taft's prescription drug card program will help Ohioans who are 60 and older. Persons with disabilities will also be able to use the Golden Buckeye Card to obtain prescriptions. Toledo area residents should expect their cards in the mail the week of Oct. 27.

Ninety-two percent of Ohio's pharmacies will accept the card, which offers considerable savings. Residents can expect a 13 percent reduction off the average wholesale price of brand-name drugs and 20 percent off the price of generic drugs. Card users can also expect rebates of 10 percent to 30 percent on 55 popular prescribed drugs.

In addition, the new Ohio prescription drug plan provides further savings - from 15 percent to 60 percent discounts - for 380,000 senior citizens whose income levels are below 300 percent of the poverty level, which is about $30,000 for a single and $40,000 for a couple.

Lately, senior citizens have traveled to Canada and used Internet mail order offers and drug clubs to obtain prescriptions at cheaper rates.

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