Minnesota officials on Thursday announced a new marketing campaign to promote a Web site that offers free prescription drug comparisons and helps consumers find the "best buy" drugs based on cost, safety and effectiveness, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (Olson, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 6/23). The Web site, crbestbuydrugs.com, is produced by Consumers Union. It offers recommendations on 13 categories of drugs, including medications for pain relief, heartburn, allergies and depression. Recommendations on effectiveness and safety are based on studies conducted by researchers at the Oregon Health & Science University. Funding efforts for the promotional campaign will be led by the Minnesota Senior Federation. Trade groups for doctors, insurers and pharmacists also will participate in the campaign. According to the Pioneer Press, Consumers Union has offered online drug recommendations for two years, but public interest has remained low. Gail Shearer, director of health policy analysis for Consumers Union, said 100,000 individuals download information from the site every month. Officials hope the new marketing campaign will raise the site's profile. MSF also plans to circulate paper copies of the recommendations in an effort to make them available to the uninsured and to those who do not have access to the Internet (Olson, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 6/22). Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), who also announced the launch of a state Web site that gives pricing information for more than 1,000 pharmacies in Minnesota, said the state "leads the nation in finding innovative and creative ways to add affordability to prescription medicines" (St. Paul Pioneer Press, 6/23).
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