Limiting Pharmaceutical Coupon Use Is More Cost-Effective

Coupons are commonly marketed to patients and prescribers to insulate patients from higher costs associated with brand-name drugs. However, these coupons can reduce generic drug utilization, which can increase costs to payers, providers, and health care systems.

A study found that limiting the use of coupons results in the prescribing of more cost-effective formulary alternatives. The results of the study were presented at the AMCP Annual Meeting during a poster session titled “Changing Prescriber Use of Pharmaceutical Manufacturer Coupons Within a Clinically Integrated Healthcare System.”

Two pharmacists provided education to 163 primary care providers and care managers on the implications of manufacturer coupons. This involved an asynchronous, 15-minute video and an electronic newsletter. Changes were also made in the organizations’ policies for using manufacturer coupons.

Researches used claims data from a large chain pharmacy and compared findings between the pre-education and policy change (September 2015 to September 2016) and post-education implementation and policy changes (June 2017 to June 2018) periods.

Following the educational initiative, coupon utilization decreased by 50% (from 713 to 356) and was associated with a 67% delcine in coupon prescription expenditure (from $243,019 to $79,594).

“Educating providers on the cost implications of pharmaceutical manufacturer coupons and implementing policies to limit the use of coupons … improves [the] generic dispensing ratio and per-member, per-month pharmacy cost, and ultimately reduces the overall cost of health care,” the researchers concluded.

The study was sponsored by Hartford Healthcare Integrated Care Partners and University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy.

Polomoff C, Jeffery S. Changing Prescriber Use of Pharmaceutical Manufacturer Coupons Within a Clinically Integrated Healthcare System. Abstract U25. Presented at the AMCP Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy Annual Meeting, March 25-28; San Diego, CA.