NU Online News Service, March 11, 2003, 12:32 p.m. EST – The big, well-known discount drug card programs really can save patients money, according to a new study by researchers at the social policy school at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.

Researchers looked at 3.5 million pharmacy claims submitted during the first three months of 2002. The researchers found that holders of discount cards saved an average of 26% of the retail cost for generic medications and 14% for brand-name medications.

The researchers also evaluated the effects of the cards on hypothetical test patients and found that the cards could save some patients hundreds of dollars each year.

An earlier study conducted by the federal government found cards had little effect on patients’ costs, but card program organizers say the federal study was flawed because it used general information about retail prices rather than specific claim repricing data.