Pharmacies to Promote Savings to Influence New Business

BY Rachel Cagle
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Nearly half of consumers have abandoned a medication prescribed by their physician because it was too expensive, according to a survey released today by DrFirst, the nation's leading provider of e‑prescribing and patient medication management solutions. At a time when the federal government is pushing a variety of measures to make prescription drug prices more transparent to consumers, the nationwide survey revealed that fully 73% of consumers would change pharmacies if they knew that doing so would save them money on a prescription.

Drugstore Pharmacy Users are willing to do the research to find savings on prescription medications. According to AudienceSCAN, last year, 51.5% of these consumers used a search engine to research a product they were considering for purchase. Most (89.1%) prefer to conduct their searches via Google. Only 17.7% will go past the first page of results though.

According to the findings, as little as $10 in savings would motivate 38% of respondents to switch pharmacies. If the savings rose to between $11 and $25, nearly 70% of them would choose a different pharmacy. The survey results are consistent with recent studies that found a high correlation between drug costs and medication adherence, or the likelihood that patients will follow their doctor's prescribed therapy. A 2017 Truven Health Analytics-​NPR Health Poll found that 67% of patients who failed to fill their prescriptions in the last 90 days reported high costs as their reason.

Most Physicians Fail to Share Pricing Information

With medication adherence being a critical factor in patients' long-​term health, physicians are under increasing pressure to discuss costs with patients when they write prescriptions. Yet according to the survey, fewer than half (44%) of consumers say their physician advised them about medication costs or offered lower-​cost therapeutic alternatives. Even fewer (41%) reported receiving advice from their doctor or pharmacist about possible cost-​saving coupons or having a prescription filled at a less-​expensive pharmacy. Respondents' willingness to change pharmacies to save money indicates that such advanced notice of prescription costs, coupon options, or lower-​cost pharmacies would be highly valuable.

Addressing high drug prices and increasing price transparency is a priority for the Trump administration, and Congress, which passed two bills recently that prohibit pharmacy gag clauses on drug prices. The legislation allows pharmacists to tell customers when they could save money by paying for a prescription out-​of-​pocket instead of using insurance and paying their copay amount. Results from the DrFirst survey, however, indicate that participants would like notification about drug pricing options before picking up prescriptions.

"Physicians must be sensitive to the fact that even a $10 price difference influences patient behavior when it comes to filling prescriptions," said G. Cameron Deemer, president of DrFirst. "The survey underscores patients' desire to have pricing information up-​front, before going to the pharmacy. To reduce prescription abandonment and improve health outcomes, physicians must actively participate in this conversation at the point of prescribing so that the physician and patient can jointly decide on the best medication option."

Pharmacies can promote their lower prices to Drugstore Pharmacy Users a number of ways. First, according to AudienceSCAN, 47.6% of these consumers took action after receiving an email ad last year. In that same period of time, Drugstore Pharmacy Users were driven to action by TV commercials (61.5%), text or mobile smartphone app ads (44.1%), text link ads (37.7%).

AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. Media companies and agencies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.