You’ve seen the long, saccharine ads about the latest brand name drugs, where patients take walks along the beach, attend their grandchildren’s sporting events, and learn to make pottery. Brand-name drugs demand high-end advertising.
And now, innovations in the way medicines are branded are affecting your company’s pharmacy benefit costs. Drug manufacturers are creating “combination drugs,” which utilize combinations of generic drugs to secure new patents. This allows holders to do three things:
When doctors prescribe more expensive combination drugs, it means you’re paying more for your employees’ prescription benefit. Let’s look at a few examples of combination drugs that are driving higher prices:
Treximet (migraine pain made up of generic sumatriptan and naproxen sodium)
Duexis (rheumatoid pain)
Duac (acne medication)
This New York Times piece explores the strategies pharmaceutical companies are using to encourage consumers to use combination drugs: marketing slogans like “one copay for one pill,” encouraging use of mail-order specialty pharmacies, and more. Patients like combination drugs, but they don’t realize the affect its having on insurance costs.
So what can employers do? Here are a few steps you should take: