Express Scripts, the country’s biggest PBM, yesterday unveiled a program that it claims will make drugs more accessible to a portion of the population that currently cannot afford medications. The program is called InsideRX and consumers can sign up for free, the New York Times reports. Members will be given a discount card that they can present to pharmacies that would enable them to get discounts of as much as one-third off the list price of drugs. (Members can also use a mobile app.) The PBM says it wants to help those with no insurance or very high deductibles pay comparable to what most people with employer-sponsored health insurance pay.
There are skeptics. Ben Wakana, executive director of the not-for-profit Patients for Affordable Drugs, tells the Times that companies like Express Scripts have been partly the cause of the high prices that the PBM now says it wants to fix. He questions the PBM’s motives.
“Drug prices are so high that even with a discount, medication will unfortunately be out of reach for many uninsured or underinsured Americans,” Wakana tells the Times. “We continue to believe the most effective way to make drugs more affordable is to bring down drug prices, not to give PBMs more leverage and hope for the best.”
Others see some merit in the InsideRX program. They include Adam J. Fein of Pembroke Consulting, who tells the Times that InsideRX “is a positive development because the system is set up to soak the poor, and this is a way to pass some of the rebates down to the point of sale.”
Timothy C. Wentworth, Express Scripts CEO, points out that about 30 million Americans either have no insurance or high deductible plans. “We launched this with an idea that we can get those 30 million people similar discounts to what good-sized payers get, and provide them relief,” he tells the Times.
Source: New York Times