Top 15 ways workplaces are countering high prescription drug prices

As prescription drug prices continue to rise, employers are finding greater need to initiate expense saving methods to keep costs controlled.

The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans conducted a survey asking employers how they manage high prescription drug costs. The group received responses from 577 human resources and benefits professionals, trustees, administrators and industry experts, representing a wide array of U.S. organizations from almost 20 different industries.

Here is a list of the most popular expense saving methods, ranked by percent of employers who reported using the technique. A total of 16 methods were reported, although the list includes a tie, which is represented by a bullet point and results in a numerical listing of 15.

  1. Tiered pricing — 89 percent

  2. Mail-order drug service — 82 percent

  3. Drug formulary lists — 71 percent

  4. Pharmacy benefit manager — 63 percent

  5. Step therapy/therapeutic substitution — 46 percent

  6. Prior authorization/utilization management — 38 percent

  7. Mandated use of generic drugs when available — 37 percent

  8. Preferred provider networks — 35 percent

  9. Drug card program — 28 percent

  10. Preferential pricing agreements (negotiated with pharmacies/manufacturers) — 18 percent

  • Limits for specialty and biotech drugs — 18 percent

  1. Discontinued or limited coverage of cosmetic/lifestyle drugs — 17 percent

  2. On-site or near-site pharmacy — 16 percent

  3. Coverage of select over-the-counter drugs — 15 percent

  4. Collective purchasing groups — 14 percent 

  5. Reference-based pricing/cap on certain drugs — 6 percent 

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