The new list is expected to save taxpayer’s money.

AUGUSTA (AP) – The state Human Services Department received the federal government’s go-ahead Monday to implement a preferred drug list, on which every drug available through MaineCare is ranked for cost effectiveness and other factors.

Acting Human Services Commissioner Peter Walsh said developing the PDL was necessary to ensure that the 210,000 people who receive health care coverage through MaineCare, previously known as the state’s Medicaid program, do not lose their eligibility.

Having the expanded list of drugs on the PDL is expected to save federal and state taxpayers about $100 million during the next two years, the Human Services Department said.

The new list includes fewer of the more expensive drugs, and those that are being prescribed will be less expensive because of supplemental rebates paid by drug manufacturers to the state.

“No one on Maine Care will be denied a drug if it is medically necessary,” Walsh said.

Walsh acknowledged that some medical professionals and advocates have concerns about the PDL, but pledged to work with providers “to ensure that our PDL is implemented smoothly and in a way that minimizes any confusion for patients.”

Walsh said the PDL builds on the state’s experience with expanded prior authorization as the state’s cost of pharmacy benefits rises sharply. Costs in the last eight years have nearly tripled, he said.

“With so many new drugs entering the market each day, it is important for us to carefully review them to be sure we are using the best ones at the best price,” Walsh said.

The PDL was developed by a group of doctors and pharmacists from across the state that ranked every drug available under MaineCare for clinical appropriateness, cost effectiveness among other factors.

Those ranked one to four are preferred, and those ranked five to nine are not preferred.

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