Online Rx Price Comparison Tools, Drug Discount Card Use Soars in Weak Economy
AIS’s ***Drug Benefit News*** - March 18, 2009 - Washington, DC

Demand for Web-based prescription drug pricing tools and Rx discount programs has soared in recent months, according to pharmacy executives who point to the weak economy and greater employee cost sharing of Rx coverage as likely reasons for the trend. Aiming to address the demand, one large health plan, WellPoint, Inc., tells Drug Benefit News (DBN) that it intends to significantly increase marketing for its own prescription assistance card, which already is soaring in usage.

Go to http://www.aishealth.com/pdf/dbn031309.pdf to read this article in its entirety.

PatientAssistance.com, for example, is experiencing a 25% to 30% increase in daily hits to the site compared with last year, says Rex Bowden, president of the online nonprofit group that helps individuals find lower-priced drugs through the thousands of existing patient assistance programs. “There is a phenomenal amount of interest and inquiry,” Bowden tells DBN.

DestinationRx, Inc. is seeing an even greater uptick in utilization of its online Rx price comparison tool, according to James Yocum, executive vice president. From January 2007 to May 2007, there was no growth whatsoever at the company, he says. “From June ’07 to October of ’08, we had a 144% compounded annual growth rate,” says Yocum, who adds that he’s “never seen this kind of price sensitivity before.” He attributes the increased utilization in part to more employers shifting health care costs onto employees through coinsurance plan designs.

The same story is being played out at Medco Health Solutions, Inc., where the PBM giant is seeing significant utilization increases for its online tool, My Rx Choices. “Beginning at the end of January, we’re seeing anywhere between a 20% and 25% increase in both the daily use of the tool, and more importantly, the number of kits that get printed out at the back end so that people can go talk to their doctors,” says Tom Feitel, chief Web officer at Medco.

WellPoint also is seeing a surge of demand for its NextRx Prescription Savings Card, which the insurer launched last year and is available at no cost to members who have lost coverage. The card can save consumers up to 22% on brand drugs and 50% on generic drugs, according to the company. In 2008, the program processed 115,000 prescriptions, says Chris Rodino, the product development consultant at WellPoint who oversees the program. In the first two months of 2009, the program has already processed 164,000 prescriptions, he says.

This is an excerpt from AIS’s Drug Benefit News. To read the full story, visit http://www.aishealth.com/pdf/dbn031309.pdf.

About Drug Benefit News Published biweekly, this newsletter provides timely news and data on the business of pharmaceuticals ... and practical cost management strategies from experts throughout the industry. Issues include data on high-cost drug categories, an insider look at what HMOs and PBMs are doing, and information that helps its readers benchmark results and experiences. Click here for publication details.

Contact: Neal Learner Managing Editor, Drug Benefit News Atlantic Information Services, Inc. 202-775-9008, ext. 3056

nlearner@aispub.com

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