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Emanuel, Valencia unveil prescription drug discount card for city residents

Discounts on prescription drugs are another benefit city officials added to the new CityKey ID card. But the program, which debuted Wednesday, is open to city residents whether they have a municipal ID or not. | Sun-Times file photo

Coast2Coast Rx was chosen Wednesday to provide discounts on name-brand and generic prescription drugs “at no direct cost” to the city of Chicago or participating residents.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined his running mate, City Clerk Anna Valencia, at a North Lawndale pharmacy to announce the selection.

It’s a fourth side-benefit of their controversial-but-popular municipal identification program. Participants can have a prescription drug card number automatically printed on their municipal ID. But the program isn’t limited to holders of the CityKey ID.

The prescription drug discount card can be downloaded at, where Chicagoans can also find a list of participating pharmacies and “search for the price of prescription drugs, medical equipment” and even drugs administered to their dogs and cats.

The card is also available at branch libraries and aldermanic offices and will be accepted at “all major chain pharmacies in addition to many independent ones.”

City Clerk Anna Valencia and Mayor Rahm Emanuel at last year’s announcement of the name, cost and other details about Chicago’s municipal ID program. |  Fran Spielman /Sun-Times<br>
City Clerk Anna Valencia and Mayor Rahm Emanuel at last year’s announcement of the name, cost and other details about Chicago’s municipal ID program. | Fran Spielman /Sun-Times

According to City Hall, more than 60,000 drugs are included in the program with savings of up to 80 percent on both name brand and generics. One card can be used an unlimited number of times for all family members and pets.

Even so, Emanuel made no attempt to over-sell the potential savings.

Rather, he portrayed the card as a small step to help struggling working-class families “get the drugs they need at prices they can afford— and that does not exist.”

“Some people will say, `The Chicago RX card would only save ten bucks a month.’ Well, that ten bucks is three gallons of milk. A hundred and twenty bucks a year — if it’s only ten bucks on a single prescription — is a lot of money. That’s school supplies for your child. And if you’re getting multiple drugs, it’s a big savings for families,” Emanuel said.

Emanuel billed the ChicagoRX Card as the nation’s “first municipal prescription benefit program to be free of a gag clause” that keeps consumers in the dark about potential savings.

Ald. James Cappleman (46th) shows off his new municipal ID. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times
Ald. James Cappleman (46th) shows off his new municipal ID last year. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times

Under that restriction, “a pharmacist cannot tell you about a generic or another product — even if it’s cheaper. They’re not allowed to tell you. We’re lifting the gag order here in Chicago,” he said.

“If a pharmacist knows of another name-brand drug or a generic that is cheaper, they are allowed to now tell you. You cannot have a free market if you’re not allowed to have free information and comparative pricing and competitive pricing.”

The mayor spent the day with West Side Ald. Michael Scott Jr.(24th), then announced the program at Del Kar Pharmacy, 3726 W. 16th Street.

Emanuel said he can’t think of a better place for the launch than North Lawndale, where “literally people are trying to figure out how to get a check to go from the first of the month to the 31st” without falling short.

“We’re not gonna make the world a better place totally. But in a small little way, Chicago is making a dent in the cost of prescription drugs for consumers,” he said.