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Brand Drug 'Copay Coupons' Undermine Generics, Raise Health Costs by $1.1 Billion in Michigan
Date:11/16/2011

and copay coupons by government workers in state and municipal employee health programs."

Drug companies profit from coupon promotions in several ways:

  • Copay coupons induce consumers to choose higher-cost brands (despite higher copays) over lower-cost competitors (despite lower copays).  When consumers redeem copay coupons, the drug companies process them through a "shadow claims system" that prevents employers and other plan sponsors from knowing when enrollees have used them.
  • Drug companies often require consumers to submit confidential, personal information in order to redeem copay coupons.  Manufacturers have long sought (but found difficult to obtain) such sensitive patient data, which enables them to identify and directly target individual patients with "brand loyalty" marketing programs.

Coupons can also increase consumer costs in several ways:

  • To help cover the $4 billion spent annually on copay coupons nationally, manufacturers can simply raise prices.  Manufacturers reportedly earn a 4:1 to 6:1 return on investment (ROI) on copay coupon programs.
  • Copay coupons create "brand loyalty" to the most expensive products in each therapeutic class of drugs, even among newly diagnosed patients.

PCMA represents the nation's pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), which improve affordability and

quality of care through the use of electronic prescribing (e-prescribing), generic alternatives, mail-service pharmacies, and other innovative tools for 210-plus million Americans.

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SOURCE Pharmaceutical Care Management Association
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