Money & The Economy

Nearly Half of Consumers Have Abandoned a Prescription at the Pharmacy Because it Was Too Expensive

Almost 75 percent of consumers would change pharmacies to save money, yet the majority of physicians do not provide price information

Nearly half of consumers have abandoned a medication prescribed by their physician because it was too expensive, according to a survey released today by DrFirst, the nation’s leading provider of e-prescribing and patient medication management solutions. At a time when the federal government is pushing a variety of measures to make prescription drug prices more transparent to consumers, the nationwide survey revealed that fully 73 percent of consumers would change pharmacies if they knew that doing so would save them money on a prescription.

According to the findings, as little as $10 in savings would motivate 38 percent of respondents to switch pharmacies. If the savings rose to between $11 and $25, nearly 70 percent of them would choose a different pharmacy. The survey results are consistent with recent studies that found a high correlation between drug costs and medication adherence, or the likelihood that patients will follow their doctor’s prescribed therapy. A 2017 Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll found that 67 percent of patients who failed to fill their prescriptions in the last 90 days reported high costs as their reason.

Most Physicians Fail to Share Pricing Information
With medication adherence being a critical factor in patients’ long-term health, physicians are under increasing pressure to discuss costs with patients when they write prescriptions. Yet according to the survey, fewer than half (44%) of consumers say their physician advised them about medication costs or offered lower-cost therapeutic alternatives. Even fewer (41%) reported receiving advice from their doctor or pharmacist about possible cost-saving coupons or having a prescription filled at a less-expensive pharmacy. Respondents’ willingness to change pharmacies to save money indicates that such advanced notice of prescription costs, coupon options, or lower-cost pharmacies would be highly valuable.

Addressing high drug prices and increasing price transparency is a priority for the Trump administration, and Congress, which passed two bills recently that prohibit pharmacy gag clauses on drug prices. The legislation allows pharmacists to tell customers when they could save money by paying for a prescription out-of-pocket instead of using insurance and paying their copay amount. Results from the DrFirst survey, however, indicate that participants would like notification about drug pricing options before picking up prescriptions.

“Physicians must be sensitive to the fact that even a $10 price difference influences patient behavior when it comes to filling prescriptions,” said G. Cameron Deemer, president of DrFirst. “The survey underscores patients’ desire to have pricing information up-front, before going to the pharmacy. To reduce prescription abandonment and improve health outcomes, physicians must actively participate in this conversation at the point of prescribing so that the physician and patient can jointly decide on the best medication option.”

DrFirst’s industry leading benefit verification system, myBenefitCheck℠ enables physicians to access the actual cost of a patient’s prescribed medication before leaving the physician’s office. DrFirst was the first to launch this functionality in October 2015. Since then, DrFirst has processed nearly 20 million benefit and pricing inquiries on behalf of physicians and patients nationwide, and today leads with the broadest coverage in the market. Patients have benefited from an average savings of $110. Overall, patients have experienced out-of-pocket savings of as much as $5,365 over the life of a prescription (including refills). Additionally, myBenefitCheck has helped prescribers avoid more than 30% of unnecessary prior authorizations to get patients on treatment faster. Currently, more than 330 EHR solutions use myBenefitCheck.

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Carl Fox

Carl Fox is the senior money and finance writer for Conservative Daily News. Follow him in the "Money & The Economy" section at CDN and see his posts on the "Junior Economists" Facebook page.

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