Companies term Brand-Name Coupons: A Doubled Edged Sword reports MyCouponDoc
(EMAILWIRE.COM, November 01, 2012 ) San Francisco, CA- The sheer amount of coupons for brand-name drugs are now more abundant than ever.
Ads like those found in magazines for testosterone drug AndroGel, stating that as little as $10 per month for the medicine, can be seen almost anywhere a keen-eyed consumer looks.
The recent years, coupons and discount cards are found almost everywhere, and can be found for many prescription drugs. Incentives are available for nearly 400 medications, according to IMS Health, a industry consultant. There had only been 86 such incentives in 2009.
The industrys companies say the coupons help consumers get the medicine that they need. However, however the insurance industry has stated concern that the coupons drive patients toward brand-name drugs that are more expensive. This leaves insurers to cover the cost, which is passed on to consumers.
"An individual patient who receives a coupon might not realize that, although that particular prescription may cost less that month, overall what it does is to raise costs for everyone, including themselves," said Susan Pisano, a spokeswoman for the industry trade group America's Health Insurance Plans.
Medicare, Medicad, and veterans utilizing federal healthcare who are using coupons or discount cards to buy medication can actually work against efforts to keep federal spending lowered. The act may also counter federal law, according to some experts.
High co-pays for brand-name drugs steer insurer members to generic and cheaper generics. The response by Merck, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and other medical giants is to issue coupons or discount cards that cover the co-pay.
The Journal of American Medical Association outlined the effects of coupons can have on consumer payments. Researchers noted that Lipitor (a popular statin) comes with a co-pay around $30. The price is in contrast to a $10-a-month co-pay for the generic Simvastatin. However, with a Pfizer coupon, the co-pay for Lipitor falls to $4 a month.
Insurers are thus missing out on the deal that consumers are receiving. The JAMA article states that insurers thus pay $18 a month for Simvastatin and $137 a month for Liitor.
The coupons are "designed to get patients to bang down their doctor's door and say, 'Give me the most expensive drug,' " said Mark Merritt, president of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association.
According to Merrit, the likely result of the price reductions on brand-name drugs is that insurers will respond with increasing premiums on everyone.
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My Coupon Doc
Hayden Lawrence Pontiff
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