BIG PHARMA POLITICS: Consumers pressure politicians to do something about rising drug prices. Read More
Pharmaceutical companies will go out of their way to keep customers taking their costly prescriptions, even if the customer can’t afford them.
As reported by Time, Kip Burgess could no longer afford his $4,000 per month arthritis drug from pharmaceutical company Amgen. When he called the drug-maker repeatedly and asked for help, it sent him a check for $2,976 to help cover the cost. This made sure Burgess remained a paying customer.
Daniel Nam, executive director of federal programs for America’s Health Insurance Plans, says direct reimbursement checks like the one Burgess received are just another way for manufacturers to make insurance companies pay for expensive drugs, driving up the monthly premiums we all pay.
This approach will “create a new black hole of patient-directed payments and avoid any scrutiny,” said Nam.
Insurers and lawmakers are pushing back at popular copay programs that make it easier for patients to get hooked on expensive prescriptions. They say it raises the cost of medications in the long run.
“It is important to remember that while manufacturer-sponsored programs, such as copay cards, can help reduce out-of-pocket costs for patients in the short-term, they can also lead to increased health care costs in the system by encouraging the use of higher cost, often branded drugs,” Christine Cramer, senior director of CVS Health’s corporate communications said in the article.
In the end, a check from Amgen did not help Burgess. A couple of months later he needed to pay thousands of dollars again to meet his deductible for the arthritis drug that helps him get out of bed in the morning.