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CVS Health Offers New Tools for Lowering Prescription Drug Costs

CVS Health is introducing a suite of new tools that will help the industry meet its goals for lowering prescription drug costs.

CVS Health is adding new tools to lower prescription drug costs.

Source: Thinkstock

By Thomas Beaton

- CVS Health has launched new cost-saving initiatives that aim to lower beneficiary prescription drug costs through co-pay adjustments, pricing transparency technology, and increased promotion of generic drugs.

The initiatives follow a CVS Health poll that found 83 percent of Americans are concerned about the rising costs of prescription drugs.

Thomas Moriarty, Chief Policy and External Affairs Officer at CVS Health, said that the new initiatives will help CVS Health customers find the highest quality prescription drug options at the lowest possible cost.

"Today's consumers are faced with higher prescription drug prices than ever before and many of them are now paying for a larger share of their prescription drug costs out of their own pockets at the pharmacy counter due to growth in high deductible health plans," Moriarty said.

"Until now, patients haven't had the appropriate tools available to them to help them manage these costs. To address this, CVS Health is giving expanded tools to patients, prescribers and pharmacists so they can evaluate prescription drug coverage in real-time and identify lower-cost alternatives.”

CVS pharmacists will be equipped with a technology solution called the CVS Pharmacy Rx Savings Finder to identify low-cost prescriptions for members.

The platform will show pharmacy teams if a prescription on a beneficiary’s formulary is the lowest cost option and if there are cheaper alternatives available. Rx Savings Finder users also have access to information that indicates when a 90-day prescription is more affordable than a 30-day prescription.

In addition, pharmacists using Rx Savings Finders can initiate other cost-saving programs for uninsured members and enroll patients in a loyalty program that uses cash incentives.

“Armed with the information available through our Rx Savings Finder, our more than 30,000 CVS pharmacists can play an important role by helping patients save money on their medications, providing advice on how and when to take them, and ultimately helping them achieve better health outcomes," said Kevin Hourican, Executive Vice President of Retail Pharmacy at CVS Pharmacy.

"We are beginning this process with our CVS Caremark PBM members and expect to roll it out more broadly throughout the year."

CVS Health will try to increase provider adoption of a real-time benefits program to bring greater price transparency to consumers.

The real-time benefits program allows a provider to view member-specific costs for a drug and review up to five lower-cost, clinically appropriate alternatives. CVS Health customers can review cost information on the CVS Caremark app and through online member portals.

Early data indicates that providers switched patients to a cheaper drug alternative 30 percent of the time and saved approximately $75 per prescription.

“In 2017, nearly 90 percent of our PBM plan members spent less than $300 out-of-pocket for their prescription medicines. While this signals progress, for those patients that cost is not insignificant,” said Troy Brennan Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health.

“That is why we are committed to doing even more across our enterprise to help patients find and access the lowest cost drug at the pharmacy which ultimately will help improve clinical outcomes and remove higher downstream medical costs from the system.”

CVS Health’s Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) customers will have access to additional solutions such as drug rebates that are passed down directly to beneficiaries.

PBM clients have benefited from other CVS Health solutions including guidance aimed at lowering out-of-pocket costs and outreach to improve medication adherence.

“In 2017, despite manufacturer brand list price increases on drugs near 10 percent, CVS Health PBM strategies reduced drug trend for CVS Caremark commercial clients to the lowest level in five years, keeping drug price growth at a minimal 0.2 percent,” CVS Health said.

“In fact, 42 percent of CVS Caremark commercial clients spent less on their pharmacy benefit plan in 2017 than they had in 2016.”

Leaders at CVS Health believe that these programs will create a more affordable prescription drug market and ease consumer concerns about rising drug prices.

“These programs are part of CVS Health's commitment to helping consumers find the lowest cost prescription drugs by offering more pricing transparency for prescribers, pharmacists and patients,” the company stated

 

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