Filling the Rx Gap: Cost Solutions at the Point-of-Sale

Pharmaceutical Executive

Prescription abandonment-cited as one of the major cost-related issues in healthcare-has prompted numerous efforts to raise the profile of pharmacists in driving improvements in patient utilization.

Prescription abandonment-cited as one of the major cost-related issues in healthcare-has prompted numerous efforts to raise the profile of pharmacists in driving improvements in patient utilization. With a marked decline in engagement elsewhere-physician prescribers are seeing fewer sales reps and DTC spending is ebbing – more solutions providers are seeking to fill the gap, with new tools to help support pharmacists in providing effective cost solutions to patients directly at a medication’s point-of-sale.

Cost is being seen more often a key barrier that patients struggle with in determining whether to fill a prescription. A 2010 study in the Annals of Medicine cited that “prescriptions with a copayment of greater than 50$ were 4.68 times more likely to be abandoned than prescriptions without any copayment.” Patients with multiple prescriptions, and thereby multiple copayments, are the most at risk for abandoning clinically valuable therapies on cost grounds. The place where it makes the most sense to intervene and provide monetary relief to the patient, is at the point-of-sale. Hence the new focus on the pharmacist.

“Pharmacists are the last healthcare provider to interact with a patient about their medication. They are the most trusted healthcare professional when it comes to a patient’s medication,” explains Mark Bouck, President of TrialCard. This sense of trust, coupled with the frequency with which pharmacists see patients-surveys show it’s two to three times more often than physicians and non-physician prescribers-offers a unique opportunity to establish and maintain that extra rapport where other providers leave the conversation.  To facilitate this interaction, TrialCard has developed a new program, RxSaver, which gives pharmacists the opportunity to offer a sponsored copayment sharing program in the event that a patient is seeking to abandon a prescription. This ultimately increases traffic at the participating pharmacies while increasing access to branded therapies for patients, helping to foster customer loyalty in multiple ways.

Bouck notes that RxSaver, in its initial test run, saved 14.2% prescriptions from being abandoned. TrialCard touts the program as a new option for harried brand managers, who have seen budgets for promotional spend slashed at the same time regulatory headwinds are making it harder to find alternative ways to engage with those who make prescribing decisions.  TrialCard’s fresh emphasis on the pharmacist, along with the software to speed and document the options that drug companies can offer to help patients limit their exposure to the add-on costs now present in many pharmacy benefit plans,  is evidence that the battle to move the needle on low adherence rates has entered a new, hopefully more successful, phase.