October 2nd, 2012

Drug companies fend off competition from generics by offering discount coupons

By David Schultz
The Washington Post

A magazine ad for the testosterone drug AndroGel shows a discount card that allows consumers to pay “as little as $10 per month” for the medicine. Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline announces in another magazine that it offers discount coupons for the popular inhaler Advair. And a TV commercial for Nexium notes that if consumers can’t afford the heartburn drug, its manufacturer, AstraZeneca, “may be able to help.”

In the past few years, coupons and discount cards have become nearly ubiquitous for prescription drugs. Such incentives are available for 395 medications, according to a recent report from industry consultant IMS Health. In a similar analysis in 2009, a marketing firm found that only 86 drugs came with coupons.

Drugmakers say the coupons help Americans get the medicine they need. But the insurance industry is concerned that they drive patients toward more expensive brand-name drugs, leaving insurers to cover the full cost, which then gets passed on to consumers in the form of higher premiums.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/drug-companies-fend-off-competition-from-generics-by-offering-discount-coupons/2012/10/01/c7a393be-f05f-11e1-ba17-c7bb037a1d5b_story.html

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