Are Drug Prices Keeping Your Patients from Adhering to Their Medications?

Apr 30, 2019 | Independent Pharmacy Insights, Pharmacy Growth, Pharmacy Insights

With political partisanship at an all-time high, there is at least one point on which both sides of the aisle have agreed: out of control prescription prices need to be reined in.

This bipartisan movement in the U.S. appears to be fueled by a growing trend that finds drug manufacturers burying pricing behind robust advertising campaigns and PBMs negotiating sweetheart rebate deals which rarely result in lower costs to you or your patients.

The overall effect these pricing practices have had on prescription drugs is putting your patients at risk.

How Drug Pricing Can Affect Patient Adherence

Currently, rising medical costs put enormous strain on government and employer health care budgets, but they’re also hobbling household budgets. High medication costs are forcing patients to skip doses or leave prescriptions unfilled, which often results in the need for more expensive emergency room or hospital visits.

Consider this: 20 to 30 percent of prescriptions go unfilled and approximately 50 percent of prescribed medications treating chronic diseases are not taken. Those are staggering numbers.

With value-based programs focusing on quality of care over quantity of care, CMS reimbursement guidelines are shifting to support:

  • Better care for individuals
  • Better health for populations and
  • Lower costs.

Pharmacies are, unquestionably, integral members of the health care team. They’re also positioned in a way that they can make a noticeable impact on patient health through preventative measures. Taking care of a medical issue with the proper prescription drugs can:

  • Lower a patient’s risk of readmission to the hospital
  • Prevent a patient’s disease state from worsening and
  • Prevent secondary health issues from occurring.

Prescription Drug Pricing Transparency Can Help Increase Adherence

With high, hidden, and confusing drug prices contributing to patient nonadherence, it’s only logical to deduce that pricing transparency can help increase adherence.

Recent legislation on price transparency include:

  • 22 states introducing legislation promoting greater drug price transparency from manufacturers
  • Requirements for drug manufacturers to report drug pricing information for drugs that
    • Increase in price by a given percentage over specific time frames or
    • Have an estimated annual cost exceeding an established benchmark
  • Requiring drug makers to include prices in direct-to-consumer advertisements such as print, television and digital ads.

Transparency in drug pricing can help government, insurers, and patients better understand what drives pricing increases and, in turn, aid in finding more effective solutions to these skyrocketing prices.

For patients, having a relationship with a local, independent pharmacist provides them with a knowledgeable, accessible health care resource that can explain the many factors driving medications costs and what lower cost alternatives are available for their conditions. This process makes the patient an informed member of their healthcare team, increasing the likelihood that they will take medications as instructed which, in turn, keeps them healthy and help support better outcomes.

Closing Thoughts

Out-of-control drug prices are having a real effect on everyone from the government down to the consumer. Pharmacists are on the front line, seeing patients struggle to afford their medications, watching drug prices climb, and knowing the impact non-adherence can have on positive patient outcomes. Legislation is slow to catch up, but it is moving in the right direction, which is a strong positive.

In the meantime, partnering with companies like alliantRx can help independent pharmacies stay up-to-date with legislation movement on drug-transparency bills and laws while also providing our members with the ability to pass on price relief to their customers through our large scale, consolidated purchasing programs.

If you’re not a member yet, join us. If you are a member, make sure you’re leveraging your benefits and maximizing your pharmacy’s success.