Benefits Plans - Prescription Drug Plan: Prescription Drug Plan Newsletter

Page last updated: Tuesday, 05-Oct-2010 12:11:06 EDT

Summer 2008

Topics covered in this issue include:

Printable newsletter (PDF)


SXC and Walgreens Mail Service

Is My Drug Covered?
The U-M Prescription Drug Plan covers members participating in all U-M employee, retiree and graduate student medical plans. Please contact SXC, not your medical plan, for drug coverage and co-pay information, and for the location of participating pharmacies in your area. Call SXC at 1-866-715-0874, or visit the RxPortal Web site:

When to Use Walgreens Mail Service
Walgreens Mail Service should only be used for 90-day supplies of maintenance medications on which the patient is already stabilized. Walgreens Mail Service is set up for 90-day supplies of medications with co-pays of $14 for generic, $28 for preferred brands and $48 for non-preferred brands. Supplies less than 90 days will be charged at the same co-pay rates.

To register for Walgreens Mail Service, visit the website at, call Walgreens Mail Service at 800-745-7083 (TTY 800-573-1833), or print a mail-in Walgreens Mail Service Pharmacy Order Form:

In 2007, using the Walgreens Mail Service saved U-M drug plan members more than $245,000 on co-pays as compared to co-pays for the same drugs purchased from local pharmacies.


Your Savings Opportunity

Get your best value by using generics and drugs on the U-M drug plan’s Preferred Drug List (PDL). Physicians are encouraged to prescribe generics or preferred drugs when it is appropriate for your condition.

The University supports generics and preferred drugs as “Best Buys” to reduce health care costs and co-pay expenses.

The Preferred Drug List includes select brand-name and generic drugs. The list is compiled and updated by a team of University physicians and pharmacists who review all FDA-approved drugs. Preferred brand-name drugs are selected on the basis of therapeutic effectiveness, safety and cost relative to other brand-name drugs used to treat the same conditions.

More than 85 percent of all prescriptions written for U-M drug plan members are filled with preferred drugs.

The latest University of Michigan Preferred Drug List is available on the Web at:

Are you taking a statin (cholesterol-lowering) medication? Talk with your doctor about the U-M Pill-Splitting discount program. When prescriptions for higher-strength simvastatin, lovastatin, and pravastatin, Lipitor and Crestor are written “take one half tablet daily,” they qualify for a 50 percent co-pay reduction. For details, see:

Pill Splitting saved 762 U-M Prescription Drug Plan members more than $34,000 in 2007.


Baby Aspirin at Bedtime

Doctors often advise patients to take one 81 mg “baby” aspirin to help control their blood pressure, but generally do not give advice about what time of the day to take the pill. A study of 240 patients with pre-hypertension at the University of Vigo in Spain found taking a small amount of aspirin daily was effective only at bedtime (see 5/20/2008 “Health”).


E-Prescribing Coming to Michigan

E-prescribing is a new, safer way for doctors to prescribe medications. Your doctor sends prescriptions electronically to your pharmacy – there is no paper for you to carry.

If your doctor belongs to an e-prescribing service, the doctor can see your prescription history, check for any drug interactions, and find your best buy medications before writing the prescription. Research has shown that e-prescribing reduces errors in prescribing and dispensing medications.

The University of Michigan Prescription Drug Plan will begin supporting e-prescribing in October 2008. Check with your doctor’s office to see if they participate in e-prescribing.


Progress Report - Research Collaboration

The MHealthy: Focus on Diabetes two-year pilot program will conclude on June 30, 2008. Pilot program participants will continue to be eligible for program discounts through December 31, 2008 while the research data is evaluated. Over 3,000 U-M prescription drug plan members participated in the study. So far participants have saved an average of $234 each on diabetes-related medications. As of March 30, 2008 participants’ total co-pay relief was $744,000.

The M-Healthy: Focus on Medicines program is beginning its second year. U-M drug plan members invited to participate in the program are mailed a personalized history of their medications with suggestions on how to reduce the cost of therapy. Members have found it very helpful to review their medication therapy with a U-M clinical pharmacist. Here is sample of their comments:

  • My medicines now work better and I have fewer side effects.
  • I like the savings on medication costs the program provided me.
  • I felt comfortable asking questions - the pharmacist clearly explained and answered my questions honestly; she had my interests in mind.
  • The most helpful part of meeting with the pharmacist is the possibility of reducing the number of medicines I take.
  • I learned what herbs and other nonprescription medicines might be helpful and which I could safely take along with my prescription medicines.
  • It’s great the U-M is doing this for its employees and retirees.

To participate or find out more about the Focus on Medicines Program, call 734-936-3044 (or toll-free 866-965-6337) or send an e-mail to:


2007 U-M Prescription Drug Plan Facts

Total number of prescriptions dispensed in 2007


Prescriptions dispensed as generic drugs (tier 1)

63.66 %  (68.51% Dec.‘07)

Prescriptions dispensed as brand preferred drugs (tier 2)

22.69 %

Prescriptions dispensed as brand non-preferred drugs (tier 3)

13.65 %

Average number of prescriptions filled per active faculty, staff or dependent drug plan member


Average number of prescriptions filled per retiree


Total U-M drug cost for 2007

$61,652,581  ($61 million)

Total member drug cost


Average cost of a generic prescription


Average cost of a brand drug prescription


Average member cost share per prescription

$13.44  (16.48%)


Safety Tips: Unwanted Medicine Disposal

Don’t Flush – The old wisdom was to “flush” unwanted medications down the drain to the sewer or septic system. New water testing methods and wildlife studies show that these flushed medicines are reappearing in our lakes, streams and public water supplies. Improper disposal of unwanted medicines can harm children, wildlife, pets and your septic system. For more information, see U-M Hospitals Safety Management Services’ flyer “Disposing of Old Medications” at


The University of Michigan in its sole discretion may modify, amend, or terminate the benefits provided with respect to any individual receiving benefits, including active employees, retirees, and their dependents. Although the university has elected to provide these benefits this year, no individual has a vested right to any of the benefits provided. Nothing in these materials gives any individual the right to continued benefits beyond the time the university modifies, amends, or terminates the benefit. Anyone seeking or accepting any of the benefits provided will be deemed to have accepted the terms of the benefits programs and the university's right to modify, amend or terminate them.