By: The ConnectiveRx A&A team
Due to the effects of inflation, the average price of gasoline in the US continues to rise — contributing to an overall increase in energy costs. Food prices have also seen an uptick as well as construction supplies and automobile sales. The retail healthcare space is not immune to these cost increases, but unlike many of the day-to-day costs of living, consumers have some power to mitigate their out-of-pocket drug expenses thanks to generic options for many branded medications.
Despite efficacy issues with some generic alternatives, pharmaceutical companies still encounter difficulties in competing against them. One effective strategy to differentiate themselves in this competitive market is by directly showcasing savings offers to prescribers within the electronic health record (EHR) system. By doing so, pharma brands can effectively target healthcare providers and enhance the visibility of their cost-saving programs.
Price vs. Performance: A Balancing Act
Physicians, for their part, have become increasingly aware of the barriers to adherence that high branded drug costs place on their patients in an inflated economy. They must balance the clinical aspects of efficacy and safety against cost-related access and adherence concerns. So physicians may ask themselves:
- Is the generic version of an alternative drug good enough to treat the condition?
- How complicated is the brand-drug approval process, if any?
- What's the cost difference between the two, and can my patient reasonably afford the brand?
In other words, a physician is likely to prescribe a branded medication, but only IF there is no good generic alternative, and IF the brand is covered by the payer, and IF there is a patient savings program.
That third stipulation should be where brand managers focus their efforts. When a physician is in the EHR and immediately sees that a patient savings offer is available for a branded product, they are more likely to move toward prescribing that brand, especially if they perceive the efficacy and/or safety benefits of the brand vs. a generic version of similar medication.
In fact, our proprietary data shows that physicians want to see clinical AND patient savings information in the EHR. What’s more, having that information available in workflow results in an 11.5% script lift for branded drugs.
Generics Aren’t Going Away
In general, inflation rates ebb and flow over time, but the number of generics will only increase. In fact, this year there are several key drugs in both the specialty and retail spaces that are losing their patents. The more generics that become available, the less motivation patients will have to pay higher drug costs.
From 2009 to 2018:
- Branded prices increased by 137% in Medicare Part D and 48% in Medicaid.
- Generic prices decreased by 23% in Medicare Part D and 15% in Medicaid.
Generic drugs account for 90% of all prescriptions filled in the US. The reasons are clear:
- Branded retail drugs cost, on average, $353 in Medicare Part D and $218 in Medicaid.
- Generic drugs cost, on average, $17 in Medicare Part D and $23 in Medicaid.
Copay Support Programs Help Even the Playing Field
With generic products dominating the medication marketplace, prescribers know that in most therapeutic areas there is a generic option available for patients. A savings program that can compete with these lower-cost options is one of the best ways to build brand loyalty in the minds of prescribers.
Adherence begins when physicians and patients are aware of any and all financial support available from the brand. Effectively highlighting your savings offer to prescribers while they are in the EHR prescribing module can be a breath of fresh air for an inflation-weary population who just want to care for their health without having to worry about their financial situation. Learn more about ConnectiveRx's Awareness & Adherence messaging options for your brand.
 Source: ConnectiveRx EHR analysis of 27 PhysicianCare with patient savings programs run between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2018. Measurement is based on de-identified prescription data (written); range 0.09% to 29.05%. The results presented are representative of these programs only; each product situation is unique and future results may differ.
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