Pharmacists to the rescue!
A pharmacist is the only member of the healthcare team who truly knows what a medication costs the patient. Part of their training includes helping patients overcome cost barriers. Good pharmacists will help you navigate the cost of medicines and may offer services specifically to help you find the most appropriate and cost-efficient medications. Taking the example of EpiPen®, a pharmacist could offer a variety of ways to lower costs.
Many brand name medicines offer coupon cards that can be provided by your doctor or pharmacist, or are even found online. The manufacturer of EpiPen® has a coupon card available that could help you save up to $300 on an EpiPen® prescription. Bring prescription coupons to the pharmacy along with your prescription to check on savings. There is always fine print to coupons and they may not work with some insurances, so a pharmacist may resort to other cost savings mechanisms.
Rather than a coupon card, you might be able to switch to another medicine which is similar but less expensive. There is a lower-cost generic alternative to EpiPen® but it can only be dispensed by the pharmacy if the prescription is written for “epinephrine auto-injector.” Although less expensive than EpiPen®, do keep in mind that this option could still be on the pricey side. Unlike EpiPen®, generics for most medicines can be automatically substituted by the pharmacy. Even amongst generics there are cost differences, so the pharmacist will work with you and your doctor to find similar alternatives that will not break the bank.
Manufacturers offer savings programs to qualifying individuals. These programs are separate from coupons. The Mylan EpiPen® 2-Pak Auto-Injector Patient Assistance Program is another way to save money on an EpiPen® prescription. Details for the EpiPen® savings program and those of other medications can be found on needymeds.org.
Lastly, most pharmacies offer some kind of savings program. Examples include savings programs on 30- and 90-day supplies, or on 6- and 12-month supplies. It never hurts to ask when you’re concerned about the price. Many times, a lower cost solution may be found just by noting your concerns and having the conversation.
Bottom line? There is no cookie cutter model for what works and what does not. The best bet when you have cost issues or questions about your medication is to talk to your pharmacist.