Should doctors ask “can you afford this medication?”

KEY TAKEAWAY1 in 7 people don’t fill their prescriptions because they cost too much. At least 28 million Americans have experienced a spike in the cost of their prescription medications in the past 12 months . And for 4 million of them, the price was so high they walked away without their prescription altogether, according to a new Consumer Reports survey.  So whose responsibility is it to ensure patients fill heir Rx’s?

Medication non-adherence. A review in the Annals of Internal Medicine estimates that a lack of adherence causes nearly 125,000 deaths, 10 percent of hospitalizations and costs the already strained healthcare system between $100–$289 billion a year yet insurers , HCP’s and pharma seem resigned to this statistic.

Out of pocket costs are rising and even people with good health insurance are seeing their co-pays rise.  Should an insurance company call a patient when they notice that an Rx hasn’t been filled? Should doctors call a patient and recommend a different drug if a recommended drug is too expensive?  The answer to both is yes, because ultimately patients who don’t fill Rx’s cost us all more money.

Pharma companies, for the most part, have given up on patient adherence because it requires time and money to ensure patients fill their Rx’s and use the medication as prescribed.  CRM programs walk a fine line between being helpful and “trying to sell” yet a good CRM program can often achieve an ROI of better than 5:1.

For now, doctors are going to have ask patients “can you afford this medication’s co-pay?” to ensure that patients are able to fill their Rx’s.  It’s just another step to ensure that people are getting the help they need before they wind up with a more serious health problem.

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