Maine's AG ruling may stop Portland from purchasing prescriptions from CanaRX

By Ramona du Houx - September 11th, 2012 

Maine’s attorney general’s, AG’s, decision to suspend the mail-order brand-name prescription service affects 1,200 Maine households as well as companies like Hardwood Products Co., that rely on CanaRX and has about 400 employees. In addition Portland Mayor Michael Brennan said that the suspension of mail-order prescriptions by the Canadian company CanaRX will affect more than 200 city employees and their dependents. It will also create a $200,000 hole in the city’s annual budget.

State Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Fort Kent, is taking action to make sure workers don’t need to pay more for their prescriptions because of the AG’s ruling. On Aug. 9, Jackson took the first step toward drafting a bill. In his legislative request he wants to make it legal for CanaRx to do business in Maine. The bill will be presented to the Legislature when it convenes next January.

“This seemed like a reasonable way for people to get lower-cost prescription drugs,” said Jackson.

In the meantime companies will have to find alternative solutions and people needed medications will have to pay substantially more for their potentially life saving drugs.

According to a Portland city estimate over the last eight years Portland’s employees have saved over $3.2 million in prescription medication costs by purchasing prescriptions from CanaRx. But after the Maine State Employees Association joined the prescription program this year Maine pharmacies complained.

The Maine Division of Employee Health and Benefits contracted with CanaRx to deliver which was reported would save more than $3 million in annual savings for the employees’ health plan. Now those savings are at risk.

When the Maine Merchants Association made an inquiry to the state’s Board of Pharmacy the AG’s office said they would look at CanaRx’s licensing status. CanaRx serves residents in the states of Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas, Vermont and Rhode Island. AG Schneider found that mail-order pharmacies employed by CanaRx had been improperly dispensing prescription drugs without a license.

The company stopped providing medications Aug. 15, 2012.