The Uncommon Cost of Treating the Common Cold

March 10, 2016

Disease sufferers are increasingly forgoing necessary drugs as the percentage of the cost they are expected to pay continues to rise, according to a recent USA Today article.

This is just one more example of the problems associated with the rising cost of prescription drugs. While headlines tend to focus on the rising cost of specialty pharmaceuticals, such as the Hepatitis C drug Sovaldi and the price hiking of the HIV drug Daraprim by much-maligned former Turing CEO Martin Shkreli, more common drugs are experiencing costs spike as well.

According to Nadina Rosier, North America health and benefits practice leader of pharmacy for Willis Towers Watson, employers that cover these drugs are trying to manage the costs of pharmacy both to protect their bottom line and to avoid having to pass these costs on to employees who need the medications and might not be able to pay.

One strategy for employers, according to Rosier, is to exclude certain expensive, name-brand medications from coverage in order to shift people to less expensive but equally effective generic drugs.

According to the 2016 Willis Towers Watson/NBGH Best Practices in Health Care Survey, ways employers can manage the rising cost of pharmacy include:

  • Adopting a high performance formulary with limited brand coverage (the preference for generics alluded to above)
  • Evaluating and addressing specialty drug cost through the medical benefit (which is often unaccounted for, compared to costs that go through the pharmacy benefit)
  • Excluding compound drugs.

To read the complete article in USA Today, click here.

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