PHARMACY

Rx abandonment on the rise in patients with commercial health plans, market research study said

BY Alaric DeArment

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. Patients using commercial health plans in 2009 abandoned their prescriptions at a rate 24% higher than in 2008, according to a new report by Wolters Kluwer Pharma Solutions.

The market research firm said consumers were become more price-sensitive toward drugs, particularly branded drugs; as a result, while the overall rate of abandonment was 6.3%, it was 8.6% for branded drugs, a 23% increase over 2008 and a 68% increase over 2006. Together, patient abandonment and denials for new prescriptions by payers meant that 14.4% of prescriptions went unfilled in 2009, a 5.5% increase over 2008.

Additionally, many patients are turning to generics, which accounted for 66% of prescriptions filled in 2009, versus 60% in 2008 and 50% in 2005. In 2009, there were 2.6 billion generic prescriptions filled, compared with 1.3 billion branded prescriptions.

“Today, patients wield more power and are more inclined to exert that influence in decisions about their prescription drugs,” said Wolters Kluwer Pharma Solutions president and CEO Mark Spiers. “During tough economic times, consumers tend to think more with their pocketbooks. We’re seeing increasing price sensitivity to co-pay and broader moves by patients in making decisions about their drug therapy.”

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Students celebrate Rx Day

BY DSN STAFF

OLYMPIA, Wash. —Students from the schools of pharmacy at the University of Washington, in Seattle, and Washington State University, in Pullman, Wash., converged on the Washington state capitol in Olympia to mark the annual Pharmacy Day on Feb. 9. Students and pharmacists met with state legislators and offered them and their staff free health screenings.

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Health Mart hits critical mass

BY DSN STAFF

SAN FRANCISCO —Chances are good that there’s a Health Mart in your community. Some four years after its reinvention as a cutting-edge, market-savvy pharmacy franchiser by owner McKesson, the hard-driving independent drug store network now operates in all 50 states and comprises one of the largest and fastest-growing pharmacy brands in America. With guidance from McKesson VP and Health Mart president Tim Canning, and a team of experienced marketing and merchandising hands, Health Mart has come a long way from its days as a dormant, 300-store remnant of the old FoxMeyer wholesale drug network purchased by McKesson in the early 1990s.

In January, Health Mart surged past another milestone when Trudell Health Mart Pharmacy in Dearborn, Mich., became the 2,500th independent pharmacy to join the franchise. That marks an 850% jump in store count over the past four years, according to McKesson.

“We joined Health Mart to take advantage of the innovative marketing, operational and patient care programs available. Then we found out we were the 2,500th pharmacy to go blue and green, which is exciting because we just celebrated 80 years of serving the community,” said Trudell owner Tom Fakih.

Among the reasons Trudell joined the franchise, Fakih said, were “new services and programs that help us better care for, educate and inform our patients,” including Health Mart’s recent “Health Across America” campaign to test people for diabetes risk.

To maintain its growth momentum, Health Mart has begun leveraging its national scale and reach. Early this year, the chain launched a national TV ad campaign tied to such major events as the Super Bowl, the Winter Olympic Games and the Academy Awards.

“Being ranked highest in customer satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates, coupled with our growth to 2,500 pharmacies, is a further demonstration of Health Mart’s commitment to the local Health Mart pharmacists,” Canning said.

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