CVS Health CEO: 3 ways pharmacies can help lower drug costs

Larry Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Health, believes pharmacies can play a role in lowering drug costs, according to The Courier.

Mr. Merlo cited brand name drugs as the source of rising prices during a presentation on Thursday at Ada-based Ohio Northern University. Eighty-eight percent of prescriptions are for generic medications, but they account for only 28 percent of prescription costs, he said.

Here are three strategies pharmacies can use to tackle this issue, as identified by Mr. Merlo.

1. Look for alternatives: After Mylan raised the price of EpiPen to more than $600 last year, CVS negotiated with the manufacturer of a generic version to sell the product for $110, said Mr. Merlo.

2. Get smart about specialty drugs. To make specialty medications cheaper, pharmacies can administer infusion drugs directly at the pharmacy or a patient's home.

3. Boost medication adherence. Mr. Merlo said non-medication adherence is an "epidemic" in the U.S. About half of Americans don't take their medication as prescribed, which generates $290 billion of avoidable costs annually, according to the report. CVS relies on a pharmacy adviser program that helps patients learn how to take their medications properly.

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