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State Worker Privilege
“A pharmacy tourism program”

“White Privilege” is something we hear a lot about these days, but it seems that Senator Lee Beyer (D-Springfield) missed the memo when he introduced SB 12, requiring benefit plans offered by the Public Employees’ Benefit Board and Oregon Educators Benefit Board to cover certain costs related to travel to Mexico or Canada to fill and refill prescriptions.

SB 12 states:

Benefit plans offered by the Public Employees’ Benefit Board that reimburse the cost of prescription drugs must include a pharmacy tourism program that allows an eligible employee or family member, who is not enrolled in Medicare, to fill and refill in Mexico or Canada 90-day supplies of prescription drugs specified by the board. The program must pay the costs of:
(a) The specified prescription drugs;
(b) Round-trip air travel to San Diego International Airport or Vancouver International Airport;
(c) Transportation to and from a pharmacy designated by the board; and
(d) An overnight hotel stay, if necessary.

It doesn’t stop there. It requires the boards to coordinate the travel making them travel agents calling it a “pharmacy tourism program.”

The FDA reported in 2017 that imported prescription drugs are neither safe nor dependable. Foreign drug makers are notorious for producing untested counterfeit drugs, even in unsterile conditions, then cheating international trade rules to hide their country of origin before the drugs make their way into the United States.

The PERS system has an unfunded liability nearing $20 billion and sucks up taxpayer dollars with no end in sight. Adding a high cost pharmacy tourism program to the OPEBB will increase the burden upon taxpayers even more for a privilege that bypasses the protections of screening foreign drugs. A bill was introduced last session, in 2020, HB 4147 to import foreign prescription drugs that everyone would benefit from, but it died in committee when the safety risk reared its ugly head.

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

Good steps have been taken. In 2003, SB 875 created the Oregon Prescription Drug Program, which serves as a prescription drug purchasing pool. In 2006, Oregon and Washington established the Northwest Prescription Drug Consortium. Through the combined purchasing power of the Consortium both states have realized savings on the purchases of prescription medications. In addition, the Consortium offers additional opportunities for shared efficiencies by reducing each program's administrative costs.


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-02-22 17:00:50Last Update: 2021-02-23 08:44:32



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