Generic Medications Cost too much money!
There's a wide variability in the cost of generic medications from pharmacy to pharmacy. Researchers at Saint Louis University surveyed 175 pharmacies and asked for their prices for the meds Lisinopril, Carvedilol, and Digoxin. These are common heart failure medications.
The researchers found that the prices for three generic medications ranged from less than $20 to more than $150, with the highest price for all three medications being $397 for a 1 month supply!
This is way too much money! If you spent $150/month on medications alone, it would cost $1800 for the year. In contrast, if you spent less than $20/month on these same medications, it would cost less than $240 for the year. This is a difference of $1,560. Unfortunately, these costs have the greatest adverse effect on low income communities because they may not have the transportation resources to drive to these less expensive pharmacies.
A possible solution is Direct Primary Care. DPC doctors like myself buy medications at wholesale prices and give them to our patients at cost, or with a 10% mark up to cover the cost of shipping and handling. For example, at our clinic Plum Health DPC, we can wholesale these same three medications for about $18/month.
You can find out more about our services at http://www.plumhealthdpc.com/
Table of Contents:
00:00 - Welcome
00:12 - Article on the Variability in Retail Pricing for Generic Drugs for Heart Failure http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2582937
00:28 - Overview of Heart Failure Disease Burden
00:35 - CDC Fact Sheet on Heart Failure
00:53 - Variability in Retail Pricing for Generic Drugs for Heart Failure
01:35 - Methods
01:47 - Map of Variability in Retail Pricing for Generic Drugs for Heart Failure http://jamanetwork.com/data/Journals/INTEMED/0/ild160060f1.png
02:49 - Table: Median Pharmacy Price for Digoxin, Lisinopril, and Carvedilol http://jamanetwork.com/data/Journals/INTEMED/0/ild160060t1.png
03:16 - Discussion of Findings in JAMA Article
03:50 - How we save you money
04:00 - Plum Health DPC prices for Carvedilol
04:29 - Plum Health DPC prices for Lisinopril
04:48 - Plum Health DPC prices for Digoxin
05:06 - Total Savings
Bonus: article from St. Louis University about the study with a photo of Dr. Paul Hauptman http://www.slu.edu/news/2016/november/variability-in-generic-heart-failure-drugs.php
Great question, I think the short answer is that it would be too difficult for insurance companies to bargain with every individual retail pharmacy! I think the name "Retail Pharmacy" says it all - the prices have to be high enough to make a profit, but low enough to have customers purchasing their supplies. Like the author stated in an interview, these higher prices hurt lower income communities the most because they have the least ability to shop around. One solution is to have primary care docs purchase medication at wholesale and distribute these meds from their practices, but this really only makes sense in DPC practices where docs are compensated for their time.
Community pharmacists are the health professionals most accessible to the public. They supply medicines in accordance with a prescription or, when legally permitted, sell them without a prescription. In addition to ensuring an accurate supply of appropriate products, their professional activities also cover counselling of patients at the time of dispensing of prescription and non-prescription drugs, drug information to health professionals, patients and the general public, and participation in health-promotion programmes. They maintain links with other health professionals in primary health care.