- Express Scripts and GoodRx Inc. debuted a new program on Monday that aims to curb out-of-pocket costs for millions of patients in the U.S.
- The initiative, called Inside Rx, offers discounts on 40 brand name drugs to a select group of consumers — those under 65 and who aren't on government insurance programs such as Medicaid or Medicare. Eight drugmakers are participating in the program thus far: AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Eli Lilly, Lundbeck, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, Takeda and Teva.
- Inside Rx "is one way people with high deductible plans or pay cash can get a price similar to what big insurance companies get," Eli Lilly CEO Dave Ricks said Monday during an interview with CBS This Morning. "So we jumped on board, we said that's a good idea. We want people to fill the prescription for life-saving medicine like insulin — our product Humalog's in this program — rather than abandon that prescription because they can't afford it."
It's no secret that rising costs for prescription drugs haven't received a warm reaction from lawmakers, patient advocacy groups or consumers. While pharmaceutical companies, insurers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) have spent plenty of time tossing around blame, this newest initiative is a rarer example of the three entities coming together to tackle the problem.
"We look at the data and we know the biggest driver of healthcare cost is when people don't take chronic medications, don't take care of chronic disease," Ricks said. "That's what drives the whole pie for all of us, and we'd like to see that come down.
"When people go to the pharmacy counter and have that sticker shock often they do walk away, saying 'I can't do that today,'" he said, adding that Inside Rx "maybe can bridge some people to fill that prescription, control their diabetes a little better."
This isn't the first time Lilly and Express Scripts, a PBM, have teamed up. The two announced a partnership in December, providing discounts on the big pharma's insulins to patients who without insurance or those with high-deductible plans. That agreement came just weeks after Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, and Elijah Cummings, D-MD, called for an investigation into potential price collusion among diabetes drugmakers, specifically Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi.
Inside Rx also targets consumers paying the full price of their medicines, a population that Express Scripts and GoodRx, a drug technology and discounts company, believe totals roughly 30 million. The companies also estimate patients who sign up for a discount card through the program or who download its app will pay 34% less, on average, for the drugs included in the program. Lilly's insulin drugs Humalog and Humulin are on part of the program, and have discounts in the 40 to 50% range.
Other medications under the program treat a variety of illnesses, including allergies, chronic obtrusive pulmonary disease, depression and heart disease.
The five medications with the highest discounts under Inside Rx are Novo Nordisk's Novolin (insulin) at 75 to 78%, AstraZeneca's Crestor (rosuvastatin calcium) at 47 to 48%, Nexium (esomeprazole magnesium), at 49 to 52% and Tudorza (aclidinium bromide) at 49%, and the extended release version of Boehringer Ingelheim's Jentaduento (linagliptin/metformin HCI) at 53%.
While eight companies already joined Inside Rx, Express Scripts CEO Tim Wentworth said other pharmaceutical developers have expressed interest in hopping onboard as well.