November 3rd, 2011

Pharmacy-Benefit Industry Says Drug Coupons Inflate Costs

By Jon Kamp and Peter Loftus

Drug-company coupons that promote brand-name medicine over cheaper alternatives could hike drug costs by $32 billion over the next decade, according to a study from the industry that manages pharmacy benefits.

The study adds to a debate over a system that eases the costs of some pricey drugs on consumers, but pushes them on to employers and health insurers.

Drug makers have used so-called co-pay cards in recent years to give patients a break on higher payments health plans require for expensive pills. The manufacturers say the discounts help patients access treatment, which can lower overall health costs.

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