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Addressing Rising Drug Prices

April 16, 2019 | Pharmacy

Rising drug prices hurt patients and lead to negative and costly outcomes throughout our health care system. For example, data show that 40 percent of patients do not pick up their prescriptions when out-of-pocket costs per prescription exceed $200.CVS Health Internal Analysis. Completed December 2015, Retail RxDw; Analysis Timeframe of 1/1/15 – 12/28/15 When patients don’t take their medications as prescribed, the cost to our health care system is approximately $290 billion.

At CVS Health, we recognize that one of the most important things we can do is to help people afford and take their medications. That’s why we’re working to improve transparency and pioneering solutions to help patients get the right medicine at the lowest possible cost.

Providing Information across Multiple Points of Care

Information about how much a drug costs is not always readily available. According to a poll sponsored by CVS Health, more than half (57 percent) of patients do not know how much a drug will cost them, and nearly as many (54 percent) believe it would be helpful to have information about the cost before they fill their prescriptions.

CVS Health is working to expand visibility into drug cost information across multiple points of care.

  • At the physician’s office: Our real-time benefits technology – used by 100,000 prescribers nationwide – enables visibility into what a patient will pay for a specific drug under their benefits plan and presents up to five lower-cost, clinically appropriate alternatives for consideration by the prescriber.
  • At the pharmacy counter: Our more than 30,000 retail pharmacists use the Rx Savings Finder tool to search for potential savings opportunities.
  • For CVS Caremark members: About 230,000 times per month, CVS Caremark members search the Check Drug Cost tool to find lower-cost, clinically appropriate alternatives to more expensive medications.

Helping Control Costs While Promoting Better Health

As a Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM), we use every tool at our disposal to bring down drug prices. For example, we encourage the use of lower-cost, clinically appropriate generic alternatives, which data show can lead to a 3-percent decrease in overall mortality. We offer evidence-based guidelines to help prescribers connect patients to the most cost-effective medicines, resulting in more than $2.9 billion in savings.CVS Health White Paper. Current and New Approaches to Making Drugs More Affordable. Published August 2018 We also provide point-of-sale rebates and zero-dollar copay drug list options to clients, helping to deliver savings directly to patients at the pharmacy counter.

Keeping Costs Down for Patients, Employers and Government Programs

Our PBM strategies rein in costs across the health care system and also increase access to affordable medications for patients. While brand manufacturers have increased prices on average 9.2 percent annually from 2008 to 2016, we have worked to stabilize drug costs for our clients and patients. In fact, CVS Health kept drug price growth to just 0.2 percent in 2017.

For more information on how CVS Health is working to expand access to more affordable and effective health care, check out our Cost of Care information center and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our bi-weekly health care newsletter.