5. Drug discounts aren't always a good deal
Buying prescription drugs through GoodRx, Amazon and other alternative avenues does not guarantee patients are getting a good deal, Axios' Bob Herman writes.
The big picture: More people are purchasing their drugs with cash instead of using their health insurance, in large part because they are getting sizable discounts.
- But discounted prices often still have no relation to a drug's actual cost.
How it works: The amount people pay out of pocket for their medication is tied to secretive contracts among pharmacy benefit managers, health insurers, distributors, pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies and other entities.
Details: Generic versions of the HIV pill Truvada have significantly brought down the drug's price, but not for everyone, according to new research from analysts at drug-pricing firm 46brooklyn Research.
Here's what a monthly supply of generic Truvada costs someone through a cash-paying program, according to 46brooklyn:
- $1,567 at Amazon, which uses a discount card program owned by Cigna and its PBM Express Scripts.
- $112 at GoodRx, which generates most of its revenue from PBMs.
- $25 at Blueberry, a small, cash-only pharmacy in Pittsburgh that eschews the entire supply chain.
The bottom line: The existence of so many drug-discount programs is an indictment of both America's insurance and pharmaceutical systems.