Delaware Public Media

Delaware is trying to spend less on pharmaceuticals

Apr 6, 2018

A coalition of five Delaware agencies and two hospitals are trying to reduce what the state pays for pharmaceutical drugs.


The Delaware Pharmacy Collaboration Project received just under $90 thousand in federal grants to come together and share information on pharmaceutical purchases and try to bring the overall state cost down.

The five state agencies are: The Delaware Health Care Commission, the Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance, the State Benefit Office, the Department of Correction and the Division of Public Health. The hospitals are Christiana Care Health System and Bayhealth.

Each entity in the coalition has separate contracts with either wholesale drug manufacturers or third party Pharmacy Benefits Managers.

Cynthia Denemark is the Delaware Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance Pharmacy Director. She says the first step is to identify the most cost effective, clinically appropriate drugs and then renegotiate contracts with uniform approaches to drug purchasing.

It's complicated
Credit Delaware Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance

“It has a very low cost to the entity, it’s effective and it has minimal side effects for most population. We want to have those products identified and agreed upon,” said Denemark.

The group hopes to do this across nine different drug categories including high cost, high volume, prescription and nonprescription drugs. Denemark says it’s not about reducing the cost of each entity individually, but reducing the overall cost to the state through uniform purchasing approaches.

“We are not attempting to discuss exactly how each entity would work reduce the cost across a whole category. We are trying to take a category of drugs and align them to match,” said Denemark.

More than a decade ago Delaware proposed using one contract for all drug purchases, but Denemark says that has not been effective in other states.

She says the group hopes to reduce the state’s spending by 2% in each of the nine drug categories by the end of the year.