PCMA: New AARP Study on Brand-Name Drug Price Increases Underscores Need for Greater Use of PBM Cost-Saving Tools

August 25, 2010

(Washington, DC)—The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) issued the following statement on a new AARP report that examined retail prices of brand-name drugs and found that the 217 products most used by seniors increased by an average of 8.3 percent during 2009, while over the last five years retail prices for the most popular brand-name drugs increased 41.5 percent:

“Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) have pioneered tools – including incentivizing the use of generic medications, e-prescribing, and mail-service pharmacies – that improve savings, access, and safety for consumers and payers.  Since the key to access is affordability, payers and policymakers alike should explore broader use of PBMs’ cost-saving tools in order to combat the consistent increases in drug prices by drugmakers. Options to increase competition and reduce costs include:

  • Stop Giving ‘Me-Too’ Drugs a Free Ride in Medicare.  Regrettably, Medicare Part D insulates drugmakers from competition by requiring drug plans to cover ‘all or substantially all’ drugs in at least six different drug classes, despite no evidence that patients had difficulty accessing these drugs. In doing so, this provision merely allows brand-name drugmakers to charge more because they know plans are required to include their drugs on formularies, whether they offer discounts or not.
  • Expanding mail-service pharmacy options. While numerous independent studies have documented that mail-service pharmacies reduce drug costs and provide greater safety and convenience, Medicare beneficiaries are not given the same incentives to use this proven delivery system as the under-65 population. This is costly and unfortunate since home delivery reduces costs and increases convenience for seniors and the disabled.”

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