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Conn. Prescription Crackdown Saves State Nearly $2 Million A Month

Connecticut Comptroller Kevin Lembo (file photo)
Bob Child

Connecticut Comptroller Kevin Lembo said a state crackdown on unproven compound drugs has saved the state about $2 million a month on prescription medications since May.

Compound drugs are mixtures of different medicines created by a pharmacist. They can be made for legitimate reasons, like if a child has difficulty swallowing and needs a pill turned into a liquid form.

But since 2012, Connecticut’s employee and retiree health plan has seen a spending increase on compound drugs. And Lembo said many of those mixtures are untested creams and lotions for issues like scarring or pain, from compound pharmacies that are out of state.

"I think there is a snake oil element to some of these compound pharmacies. When you have pain you’re going to look for whatever relief you can find. These companies are preying on people who are ill and it’s not fair," he said.

The cost in claims to the state health plan for compound drugs was only $800,000 in the entire year of 2012. By April of 2015, the plan was spending over $3 million on compound drugs for that month alone.

In mid-May, Lembo’s office started requiring doctors to send in forms proving the compounded drugs were necessary before the state would pay for them. Since then, state spending on the drugs in June and July has gone down to an average of about $45,000 each month.

Kathie is a former editor at WSHU.