Governor Jim Douglas recently announced that in fiscal year 2004 Vermont’s multi-state pharmaceutical purchasing pool-the nation’s first multi-state pool for prescription drugs-saved Vermont at least a half-million dollars more than budget analysts had originally projected.In April, following months of intense lobbying by the Douglas, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson approved the pool that Douglas and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, a democrat, pioneered last year. At that time, Douglas said Vermont expected to save approximately $1.5 million in the fiscal year.New projections show this year’s save to be approximately $2 million. Douglas added that all of the contracted rebates have not been collected and the total amount saved for fiscal year 2004 could increase further. And, as momentum for the pool continues to grow, so too is Vermont’s savings. Governor Douglas said that new states entering the pool and aggressive negotiations with drug manufactures have produced a projected savings for the new fiscal year that begins July 1 to be $3 million, nearly double the first year’s anticipated savings. The bulk buying pool is a market-based solution to the increasing cost of pharmaceuticals in the United States, and as more states join the effort, Vermont’s drug costs will decline further. Douglas also announced a plan to encourage 6 more states to join the purchasing pool. South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Virginia, and Ohio are all eligible for the pool and Douglas said he would be urging them all to join.