Study: Generic heart drugs vary widely in price, limit access to uninsured patients

A new study highlights a large variance in the cost of generic heart failure medications in the St. Louis area, causing some uninsured patients to struggle with drugs' affordability, reports Reuters.

For the study, researchers surveyed 175 pharmacies in the St. Louis area to see how much they charged uninsured patients for digoxin, lisinopril and carvedilol, according to the report. They discovered the drugs ranged in price from $12 to $400 and had an average price of $70. Researchers also noted two major pharmacy chains reported inconsistent pricing between stores.

"We do not know where the major pricing problem lies in the journey that a generic drug for heart failure takes from generic company to distributor to retail pharmacy and then to patient. There is no transparency here," said Paul Hauptman, MD, lead author of the study and a heart failure specialist at St. Louis University School of Medicine.

The pricing discrepancy may prevent uninsured patients from filling their prescriptions for the drugs, as patients often do not shop around for lower prices, according to Dr. Hauptman.

"I think a lot of doctors assume that if you're writing a prescription for a generic drug, that it will be affordable," he said.

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