As drug makers issue more coupons to help consumers lower their costs, a new study finds that the companies providing prescription coverage are fighting back by refusing to cover more medicines. And the tactics underscore the jockeying for profits in the lucrative pharmaceutical industry.
Consider coupons. Over the past several years, drug makers have used these to entice consumers to fill their prescriptions, since coupons defray or eliminate copay costs. In 2009, coupons were available for fewer than 100 prescription medicines, but the number exceeded 700 by last year, according to the analysis released on Tuesday by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development. The study was funded by Pfizer.
Drug makers contend coupons help consumers who might otherwise have difficulty affording their medicines as insurance requires them to shoulder a greater share of the cost. This “can be a real barrier to patient access to medicines, and coupons can help break that barrier down,” the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the industry trade group, wrote in a 2012 blog post on its web site.
Studies have shown, however, that coupons are a mixed bag.
Click here to read the full story by Ed Silverman, STAT News.