Patients expect discounts for soaring drug costs: 3 things to know

Patients feel entitled to drug discount programs when they're prescribed an expensive medication, according to a recent study.

Drug companies offer discount programs to mitigate soaring drug costs. The coupons cover a significant portion of a brand-name drug's cost and allow patients to lower co-pays or receive drugs their insurance won't cover.

Treato, a New York-based consumer insights company, collected and analyzed more than 191,000 online patient and caregiver conversations about drug costs and discount programs. The company also reviewed almost 300 posts about Xtandi, Ibrance and Xarelto — three drugs making headlines right now for their extremely high costs.

Xtandi is a prostate cancer drug that costs $9,682 for a 30-day treatment supply. Ibrance, used to treat breast cancer, costs $10,679 for 21 days of treatment followed by a week of no treatment. Xarelto is a blood thinner that costs $360 for a 30-day treatment regimen.

Here are three things to know about the study's findings:

  1. Despite high drug costs, few patients discussed searching for alternative treatment methods. Only 1 percent of Ibrance conversations and 4 percent of Xtandi dialogue contained mentions of switching to a cheaper treatment method. About 23 percent of conversations about Xarelto brought up changing medications.

  2. Patients did not view discount programs as donations or express gratitude to the manufacturer for covering the drug's cost. If they did express gratitude, it was aimed at the physicians, pharmacies or nurses who alerted the patients of the money-saving program.

  3. A majority of patients detailed the process of getting insurance to cover the drug as a "fight" and often expressed frustration over insurers' lack of help. Patients said they struggled to overcome obstacles that were preventing them from getting drug coverage in about a third of the conversations.

More articles on high drug costs:

Compounded drug sales skyrocket, raise concerns over fraud
Healthcare Supply Chain Association: Generic drug competition drives down costs
Drugmakers have firm grasp on drug pricing power


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