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11/12/2010
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AARP Taps DestinationRx, Consumer Reports For Medication Site

Online tool offers information about drug cost, safety, and effectiveness.

Health IT Boosts Patient Care, Safety
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AARP has joined forces with DestinationRx and Consumer Reports Health to launch an online drug comparison tool on AARP's website. With the free tool, people can use data from Consumer Reports Health to compare prescription drug safety, effectiveness, convenience, and price, and receive tips on how to have a conversation about their medications with their doctor or pharmacist.

Announced this week, Consumer Reports Health, which is part of Consumer Union, a nonprofit consumer protection organization, will provide monthly updates to its database of about 500 drugs in 26 drug classes. That information will be used by the DestinationRx's Drug Compare technology to examine similar drugs based on comparative effectiveness research. The tool provides consumers with the "Best Buy" recommendations -- drugs that are recommended by Consumer Reports Health Best Buy Drugs project based on their safety, effectiveness, cost, and convenience.

Users are also provided with a discussion sheet to help guide related conversations with their doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare professional. Finally, consumers can access the complete Consumer Reports Health Best Buy Drugs reports (in pdf) on each topic.

"The tool is a hosted application that helps users select a drug they're taking, searches the database for alternatives, displays them with links to more information, and generates letters to physicians," Alexander Grunewald, VP of DestinationRx, told InformationWeek.

He also said the combination of DestinationRx's Drug Compare software with Consumer Reports Health's content creates a tool which will improve the prescription drug purchasing experience for millions of AARP members and others who use it.

"Drug pricing changes all the time: for example, the introduction of a generic in a class can change the prices for other drugs in the same class. One of the key challenges is that physicians, when they make prescribing decisions, typically don't know anything about drug pricing," Grunewald said. "The purpose of the present drug savings tool is to reduce some of the complexity, which would be hard to do in another medium, and at the same time keep it up to date."

AARP, the leading advocacy group for Americans ages 50 and up, also uses DestinationRx's Drug Compare technology to support the AARP Doughnut Hole Calculator, which can help people in Medicare Part D avoid the prescription drug coverage gap. As consumers look for prescription drugs at the best available prices, AARP executives hope the website will empower consumers to make better prescription drug choices.

"We know that consumers want trustworthy, independent information on prescription drugs so they can make informed decisions about what is best for their health and the health of their family," Cheryl Matheis, AARP senior VP for health strategy, said in a statement. "This tool will be especially valuable to our membership and will help all users better manage their prescriptions."

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