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Nearly half of consumers abandoned a prescription at the pharmacy because it was too expensive

Physicians are under increasing pressure to discuss costs with patients when they write prescriptions, yet relatively few do so.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

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.

At a time when the federal government is pushing a variety of measures to make prescription drug prices more transparent to consumers, the national survey revealed that 73 percent of consumers would change pharmacies if they knew that doing so would save them money on a prescription.

IMPACT

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.

Those 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.

THE TREND

With medication adherence 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, just 44 percent of consumers say their physician advised them about medication costs or offered lower-cost therapeutic alternatives.

Even fewer, 41 percent, 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 are among the stated priorities 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 survey, however, indicate that participants would like notification about drug pricing options before picking up prescriptions.

Twitter: @JELagasse

Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com

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