Drug discount programs' prices often aren't close to cost, analysis finds

Drug discount programs, such as GoodRx or Amazon Pharmacy's Prime Rx, may offer consumers lower prices for prescription drugs compared to what they'd pay using insurance, but their prices still aren't close to the cost of a drug, according to a May 25 report from nonprofit drug research firm 46brooklyn. 

The report uses Gilead's HIV drug, Truvada, to show how discounted prices often aren't related to how much a drug costs to acquire. 

A brand-name version of Truvada costs about $1,840 per month. Using Prime Rx, a generic version of the drug costs $1,566.50 per month, and using GoodRx, the generic version costs $112 per month. 

But at Blueberry Pharmacy, a cash-only pharmacy in Pittsburgh that doesn't use pharmacy benefit managers and offers medications at prices in line with their actual cost of acquisition, a monthly supply of generic Truvada is just over $25. 

Amazon's Prime Rx program is partially owned by Express Scripts, a PBM.  GoodRx primarily earns its revenue from PBMs that manage formularies and prescription transactions, according to 46brooklyn. Because GoodRx's discount prices are set by PBMs, they aren't necessarily market-based, meaning they don't reflect the actual cost of the drug. 

Read 46brooklyn's full analysis here

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