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New Coupons Make Brand-name Drug Prices as Low as Generic Pills

September 4, 2012

The smart folks at drug companies have figured out a workaround to subvert the variable prescription pricing in most commercial insurance plans. These pricing schemes reduce the co-pay for brand name drugs to the same much lower level that is paid for generic equivalents.

Trouble is that the insurance company does not get a similar discount and ends up paying far more than it would for the generic, while the consumer is no longer sharing the pain; their own economic disincentive is bought off with the coupons.

By and large, generic prescription drugs are equal to the brand name in efficacy. The patent system amply rewards the innovators with exclusive access to drugs for a period of time, after which the drug is available to others to produce, often cutting the price to a fraction of the prior cost.

The article, “Prefer brand-name drugs? Lipitor, Plavix coupons discount cost to about price for new generics,” quotes an analyst at the end who says: “It’s good for consumers, because they don’t bear the cost and they can stay on the brand.” This is a misguided statement. Our health care costs are driven up by such thinking. The wealth transfer to the drug company is money that could easily be used to lower premiums, deductibles and copays for all.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Geoff Masci DC permalink
    September 4, 2012 4:22 pm

    Oh how true, Brian ! Right on !

  2. Chuck permalink
    September 18, 2012 10:01 am

    When a patient has the choice of receiving a brand name drug vs a generic at the same cost via a coupon, my bet is they will choose the brand name. And the “cost” is then applied to the insurance company or PBM. Do you really believe that insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers will take these savings and apply them to “premiums, deductibles and co-pays”? I really don’t see that happening, and I truly object when someone wants to play “ultimate arbiter” and decided who can make money and who cannot. Why not let consumers and the market decide by how they spend, rather than you or someone else deciding what’s right for them?

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