A web-based survey to assess perceptions of managed care organization representatives regarding the use of co-pay subsidy coupons for prescription drugs
Pharmaceutical manufacturers’ use of prescription brand-name drugs coupons and vouchers to subsidize patients’ cost-sharing obligations such as co-pays has increased. The co-pays are used by managed care organizations (MCOs) to give their plan members an appreciation of drug costs as well as to offer incentives to use available equivalent generic alternatives due to lower co-pays. With higher tiered co-pays for brand-name drugs being offset by coupons, little is known about MCO representatives’ perceptions about use of co-pay subsidy coupons for brand-name prescription drugs.
The objective of this study was to assess health plan managers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) perceptions on the use of prescription drug co-pay subsidy coupons. An online survey instrument was used to collect data. A convenience sample of 834 MCO representatives was selected from the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) membership directory. A total of 122 surveys were returned of which 105 were usable surveys, giving a response rate of 13.7%. A five-point, 11-item Likert scale ranging from 1 through 5, (1 = ‘Strong Disagree’ and 5 = ‘Strongly Agree’) was used to measure respondents’perceptions. Some items referred to coupons used to get co-pay discounts repeatedly over a year (i.e., long-term use coupons) while some items referred to coupons distributed for trial purposes (i.e., short-term use coupons). Of the 105 respondents, 42 (40%) “agreed,” while 58 (55.2%) “strongly agreed” that co-pay subsidy coupons encouraged non-preferred brand-name drugs over preferred brand-name drugs. A total of 78 respondents (74.3%) reported that brand-name drug coupons undermined tiered formulary structure. Sixty respondents (57.1%) “strongly agreed” that short-term use coupons increased plan sponsor’s costs and 72 respondents (68.6%) “agreed” that sponsor cost increased with long-term use coupons. A total of 42 (40%) reported to “strongly agree” that short-term use coupons should be eliminated whereas 49 (46.7%) respondents reported “strongly agreed” that long-term use coupons should be eliminated.
In summary, MCO representatives believe that brand-name drug utilization is increasing due to prescription drug incentives such as coupons which undermines their formulary controls and in turn, increases health care costs.