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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Corrects News Story about Drug Coverage Announcement

DETROIT, Sept. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- A story in today's Detroit Free Press incorrectly reported that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has begun paying for generic Prilosec(R) and said it was the first time the company has paid for generic drugs.

In fact, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has had an award-winning campaign promoting the use of generic drugs for many years. Since 2001 the company has saved $500 million by promoting generics.

On September 5, the company did announce that it was paying for an over- the-counter drug for the first time, which apparently caused the confusion.

BCBSM is paying for over-the-counter Prilosec and is encouraging a switch to Prilosec OTC for eligible members using the prescription drug Nexium(R) for heartburn and acid reflux disease. The new benefit applies to approximately 1.5 million BCBSM members whose customer groups have agreed to the new program. Not all customer groups have agreed, and members should check with their benefits administrator to confirm their employer's participation, and with their physician to confirm whether the switch is right for them.

The switch will save out-of-pocket costs for eligible Blues members, and member out-of-pocket savings may total $9 million overall, according to Blues estimates. Eligible Blues members switching to Prilosec OTC or the generic version of Prilosec from Nexium will pay nothing for the first prescription/supply of the drug, and they only will pay their normal generic drug copayment for subsequent prescriptions.

Members should check with their benefits administrator to confirm their employer's participation, and with their physician to confirm whether the switch is right for them. This is the latest in a series of efforts by BCBSM to identify and encourage ways that Blues members can continue to receive quality health care at lower costs.

The savings for each member will depend on several variables, including their copayment levels and frequency of use. A Blues member whose monthly copayment is $10 for a generic drug and $20 for a brand name drug could save around $130 a year using Prilosec OTC or generic Prilosec instead of Nexium. The savings are calculated on the basis of a year's supply of a brand name drug.

Employers in the program could save nearly $20 million in aggregate drug ingredient costs in the first year, helping slow the growth of prescription drug cost trends. Nexium is one of the most widely-prescribed drugs.

A full news release is available at

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is nonprofit and an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

SOURCE Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
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