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Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 10/01/2012

Paying (or not) for prescriptions

I bet you anything you didn’t know American Pharmacists Month starts today.

I didn’t know, either, until I got a news release late last week from the folks at CVS Caremark. The release reported survey findings showing that most pharmacists say the cost of filling prescriptions is a big barrier to patients’ compliance with drug-treatment regimens. In an online survey of 2,400 CVS Caremark pharmacists, 62 percent called cost the main reason people fail to adhere to medications and estimated that almost a third of their customers have on at least one occasion opted not to fill a prescription because it cost too much. The announcement of these survey results was timed to mark the start of the month-long recognition of American pharmacists.

The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report issued last Thursday included a brief report on the percentages of people who don’t purchase prescription medications because they cost too much. Results from surveys of adults age 18 to 64 conducted via the National Health Information Survey from 2009 to 2011 showed that 13.2 percent of Hispanic adults, 14.7 percent of non-Hispanic blacks and 10 percent of non-Hispanic whites reported that some time in the preceding year, they had needed prescription medicine but not gotten it because of its cost.

Those bits of news come on the heels of a mid-September Consumer Reports survey showing that among Americans under 65 who lack insurance coverage for prescription drugs, 45 percent reported not filling their prescriptions because of cost. That’s way up from 27 percent reporting the same thing last year. The survey of 1,158 U.S. adults found that 46 percent use prescription drugs and that the average number of prescriptions per person was 4.1.

From the news release announcing the Consumer Reports findings:

“When it comes to prescription drugs, consumers are spending on average $63 out of pocket every month, which can easily swallow up a big portion of the family budget. It’s even worse for those without insurance for medicines, who pay upwards of $91 a month for their prescriptions. We recommend several cost-cutting strategies, such as the $4 a month generic programs at the big-box and chain pharmacies, and if you aren’t already taking a generic, talk to your doctor about switching,” said Lisa Gill, editor, prescription drugs, Consumer Reports. Other strategies for reducing costs include pill-splitting when appropriate, and even substituting over-the-counter drugs for prescription drugs.

Do you have trouble paying for your prescriptions? How do you manage to balance your treatment needs and your budget?

Oh, by the way: Happy American Pharmacists Month to you.

By  |  07:00 AM ET, 10/01/2012

Tags:  prescription drugs, prescription drug cost

 
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