About that DTC study on drug pricing…

  • A new study measured the results of including drug prices in DTC ads.
  • For the high-priced drug, the price disclosure significantly reduced the likelihood of participants asking their physician about the drug, asking their insurer about the drug, researching the drug online, and taking the drug.
  • However, results were significantly mitigated when a modifier was included about out-of-pocket costs.

Leave it PhDs. They use market research like a laser for support rather than use it as a flashlight to illuminate new insights. The outcomes of this study should have been known to ALL DTC marketers. The findings are about as insightful as saying “rain is wet”.

Patients who desire a certain drug to treat their health problems, of course, want to know how much it’s going to cost them. They know that drug pricing is about as transparent as a slab of concrete.

According to Forbes “there’s been a hue and cry in healthcare of late to offer consumers more pricing information about the healthcare they are purchasing. Greater insight into the cost borne by consumers would add significant value to the delivery of care, lower costs (via increased competition), and empower consumers to make more informed buying decisions. This is a step in the right direction. The U.S. healthcare system is a $3.5+ trillion per year industry that has morphed into a severely fragmented behemoth with varying entities competing, in many instances, to differing ends”.

But there exists a larger issue endemic to our fragmented healthcare system. To wit, the ability for consumers to obtain relevant and accurate pricing information for the services they receive. Below we’ll dig into some of the reasons why “price transparency” will, in the near term, be the elusive unicorn.

The list price of a drug could be $20,000 but if the co-pay is zero, because of a coupon, patients are going to choose this drug over others which may have a higher price ticket. In an era where people are paying more for employer-sponsored health insurance, they want to minimize out of pocket costs.

Studies like this are, frankly, a huge waste of money. For drug companies, it’s all about the price of the medication that comes out of a patient’s wallet. For this reason, the list price in DTC ads is nothing but a guise to try and convince people that this administartion is doing something about high drug prices.