Frequent Buyer Programs
Tuesday, May 25, 2004; Page HE02
Loyal -- for a price Keep an eye out for cash-back deals on prescription drugs to keep you loyal -- or, at least, reduce your discontent with high prices. Among recent customer incentives: frequent-buyer plans, money back for buying a first prescription, or -- you'll like this -- a refund if your doctor can prove the drug didn't work.
Contenders Trust two competing erectile dysfunction drugs to provide examples. Viagra's Value Card -- buy six prescriptions, get the seventh free -- is for cash customers only; insurance co-pays don't qualify. Users register at some pharmacies, with their doctor or at www.viagara.com. Cialis takes a different approach. Those who sign up with their doctor get five sample Cialis pills (two more than the usual free sample pack) and five doses of any competing drug on their return visit.
Other offers Your doctor says your bood pressure drugs didn't do the trick? Novartis will reimburse up to four months' worth of your cash outlay (including co-pays) for Diovan, Diovan HCT or Lotrel. Patients must sign up through their doctor before filling their first prescription. The cholesterol-lowering drug Zocor has had a similar deal since 1998. Pfizer, maker of Detrol LA, a drug for overactive bladders, offers refunds of up to $15. Ortho-McNeil offers $5 toward your first prescription for Ortho Evra, the birth control pill.
Deal you in? Expect more deals, says Ajit Baid, industry manager for pharmaceuticals and biotech at market research firm Frost & Sullivan. Companies have no choice but to dangle deals, said Baid, as companies try to grow market share, especially in such competitive categories as erectile dysfunction, asthma, allergy, cholesterol-lowering and weight loss. Check the Web sites of the drugs you use and of the companies that make them.
-- Francesca Lunzer Kritz
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
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Recent Findings Show How Obesity Kills (Associated Press, May 11, 2004)