Pharmacogenomics pharmacogenetics image

by Leah Samera, PharmD Candidate, Class of 2018

As with most things, when it comes selecting a drug regimen for the treatment of chronic disease, one size does not fit all. If you take medications, you may have wondered why that is the case. One reason is because of pharmacogenomics.

Pharmacogenomics refers to “the entire spectrum of genes that interact to determine drug efficacy and safety.” In practice, many people may use the terms pharmacogenomics and pharmacogenetics interchangeably.

Pharmacogenetics, however, also refers to variants of one gene that affect drug response. The study of both pharmacogenomics and pharmacogenetics can help to optimize drug therapy and minimize drug toxicity based on an individual’s genetic profile.

What is a gene?

A gene is a series of codons that specify a particular protein. Genetic variation may result in altered protein sequence and function or in altered protein levels. This is significant, because these proteins can have an effect on how your body interacts with medications.

How do pharmacogenomic variations affect drug response?

The impact of pharmacogenomic variations on drug response have traditionally been divided into four categories:

  1. Those that affect drug pharmacokinetics. Pharmacokinetics refers to how a medication moves through a person’s body, i.e., how the drug is absorbed, distributed, metabolized, and eliminated.  An example of a genetic variation that affects pharmacokinetics is one in which drug metabolism is altered, subsequently affecting plasma concentration.
  2. Those that effect on pharmacodynamics. Pharmacodynamics refers to a person’s therapeutic response to a medication; this depends on a medication’s affinity and activity at its site of action. An example of a genetic variation that affects pharmacodynamics is one in which binding of a drug to its receptor is reduced, thereby decreasing therapeutic efficacy.
  3. Those that affect idiosyncratic reactions. An idiosyncratic reaction is an adverse reaction to a medication that is both rare and unpredictable. An example of a genetic variation that affects idiosyncratic reactions is one in which the likelihood of a hypersensitivity reaction to a certain drug is increased.
  4. Those that affect disease pathogenesis or severity and response to specific therapies. Pathogenesis refers to the origination and development of a disease. An example of a genetic variation that affects pathogenesis is a specific molecular defect related to the development of certain malignancies for which there are targeted therapies.

How can the study of pharmacogenomics help to optimize your drug therapy and minimize side effects?

Organizations like 23andMe allow people to “access, understand, and benefit” from the study of pharmacogenomics. With their simple home-based saliva collection kits, all you have to do is order their Health + Ancestry service; register, and spit into, the provided tube; and mail the kit back to their lab via the pre-paid package. Next, their lab extracts, processes, and analyzes the DNA from the cells in your saliva. Within 6 to 8 weeks, you get an email notifying you that you can view your results in your online account and discover what your DNA says about you. By sharing those results with your healthcare providers, they then can use that information to ensure that you get the most benefit from your medications while minimizing the risk of side effects.

References:

  1. Cavallari LH, Lam Y. Pharmacogenetics. In: DiPiro JT, Talbert RL, Yee GC, Matzke GR, Wells BG, Posey L. eds. Pharmacotherapy: A Pathophysiologic Approach, 10e New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; . http://accesspharmacy.mhmedical.com.ezproxy4.library.arizona.edu/content.aspx?bookid=1861&sectionid=146077703. Accessed September 12, 2017.
  2. Roden DM. Pharmacogenetics. In: Brunton LL, Knollmann BC, Hilal-Dandan R. eds. Goodman & Gilman’s: The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 13e New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; . http://accesspharmacy.mhmedical.com.ezproxy4.library.arizona.edu/content.aspx?bookid=2189&sectionid=167889559. Accessed September 12, 2017.
  3. Tantisira K, Weiss ST. Overview of pharmacogenomics. Post TW, ed. UpToDate. Waltham, MA: UpToDate Inc. http://www.uptodate.com. Accessed September 13, 2017.
  4. Our Mission. 23andMe.com. https://mediacenter.23andme.com. Accessed September 13, 2017.
  5. How it works. 23andMe.com. https://www.23andme.com/howitworks. Accessed September 13, 2017.
  6. Our science. 23andMe.com. https://www.23andme.com/genetic-science. Accessed September 13, 2017.

ScriptSave WellRx Prescription Savings & Wellness News

Do you need to save money on your IBS, Chronic Pain, Cholesterol or other medications?

Visit www.WellRx.com to compare prices at pharmacies near you.

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Beating high prescription costs - WJLA

by Lisa Fletcher, ABC7 News

Washington, DC (WJLA) – Millions of Americans with health insurance still pay out-of-pocket for medications. And the cost can reach hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year.

But what many drugmakers and pharmacies don’t want you to know is that you could lower your medication costs, sometimes by as much as ten-times, by simply walking across the street to a competing pharmacy.

On a recent fall morning, ABC7 News caught up with Poet Taylor, the host of a popular Washington, DC radio show. As she regaled her listeners with stories and witty banter, you wouldn’t have guessed she suffers from asthma. Her job and her well-being depend on her ability to control it.

“Asthma is a very serious, serious diagnosis,” said Taylor. “The wrong medication could result in me having an asthma attack and not being properly medicated.”

But Taylor, like millions of Americans, is in the center of a tug-of-war between insurance providers and drugmakers.

Big insurance companies threaten to take popular medications off their coverage list unless drugmakers reduce the price. It’s a multimillion dollar game of chicken and the drug companies don’t always flinch.

Taylor recalled a recent, surprising trip to her pharmacy. “I put in my normal refill. I’m feeling good. And I get a call from my pharmacy and the pharmacy is like, ‘nope, your insurance doesn’t cover that.’ Yes they do, I’ve been on it almost a year now. I know they do. They were like, ‘not anymore.’”

Taylor was forced to switch to another brand of inhaler that she and her doctor agree, doesn’t work as well for her asthma. Taylor says she feels like a pawn in the game of trying to force pharmaceutical companies to lower their costs.

“A company that would wager my life on, I don’t know what kind of extra money you get at the end of the year, it just reads loud and clear: We don’t really care about you. We care about the money that we make off of you,” said Taylor.

ABC7 News checked. If Taylor wanted the medication that works best for her she’d be out of pocket as much as $433.99 a month. We asked if that’s something she could afford.

“No,” said Taylor. “That would be the cost of my car insurance, my car payment and my phone bill.”

But what Taylor and millions of others like her didn’t know is that you can comparison shop for drugs just like you would a car, a bed, or the paper towels in your kitchen.

“The crazy thing we see every day is that same drug, same exact prescription, different pharmacy, much better price,” says Shawn Ohri. Ohri works for ScriptSave, a pharmacy benefits manager, or PBM.

There are about 30 PBM’s in the U.S. and they negotiate prices on prescriptions for their members.

Ohri says insured or not, everyone should comparison shop.

“Twenty-eight million people that we know are uninsured today, You’ve got 20 million people that are on high-deductible health plans in 2016 and that number’s growing year-over-year, and then you’ve got 10 to 20 percent of the people that have great coverage, but that particular drug that they’re using isn’t covered,” says Ohri.

One way to shop around is to call every pharmacy in your area. Another is to use an app.

Ohri’s company came up with an app called “WellRx.” There are a handful of others and each is likely to find different deals for you, depending on how they negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies.

Using the WellRx app, ABC7 News compiled the most popular prescriptions in DC, Maryland and Virginia and compared prices among the top 10 pharmacy retailers.

The antibiotic amoxicillin is the No. 1 most purchased drug in Maryland. It’s three and a half times more expensive at CVS than Walmart.

The high blood pressure medicine amlodipine besylate is one of the most popular prescriptions in Virginia. It’s nearly six-times more expensive at WalMart than it is at Kmart.

And in DC, the second most prescribed drug, sildenafil, used for high blood pressure in the lungs, or as a generic form of Viagra, is more than eleven-times more expensive at Walgreens than Costco…at $195.00 versus $17.60.

“It pays to shop around, even with these types of programs,” says Ohri.

And that’s something Taylor won’t soon forget as she tries to outmaneuver the insurance and drug companies.

“I’m a person who wants to live a healthy, happy life,” said Taylor. “I don’t know why you would want to stand in the way of that. And I would hope an extra thousand dollars, or extra million should not matter more than me living, me breathing, me being here.”

Remember that depending on what app you’re using, the prices can vary – sometimes by a lot.

See the original story on the WJLA website.


Download the free WellRx app from the iOS app store or the Google Play Store,
and get registered to take advantage of our free medication adherence tools.
If you’re struggling to afford your medications,
visit www.WellRx.com to compare the cash price at pharmacies near you.
You may find prices lower than your insurance co-pay!

 

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shop around to save on medications

For those who are new to the ScriptSave WellRx prescription savings program, you may not realize just how long our company has been in the business of saving patients money on their prescriptions. It’s actually well over 20 years – we date back to 1993.

As such, it’s certainly nothing new to us to encounter people ‘paying it forward’ and helping to spread the word. That said, in all that time, it had never occurred to us to open our website to guest bloggers – until now.

Shell Roush is a Saturday Soccer Mom who lives in North Carolina and author of the extremely popular “Things I Can’t Say” blogsite. To simply refer to her as a “Mommy Blogger” doesn’t quite do her justice but, as she states, “I’m a mommy and I blog.” However, as her audience of ~30,000 unique visitors every month will attest, you’ll find that she writes so much more than just posts about parenting … including the following, which she wrote about us…

“The Easiest Way to Shop Around for the Best Prices on Prescriptions
by Shell Roush

The pharmacy assistant was typing away at her monitor when she paused and looked up at me to ask “You are aware of the cost of this medication?” with a note of apology in her voice.

I sighed and responded that unfortunately, I was and that yes, I still needed the prescription filled.

She hesitated and very quietly told me that if I needed a prescription filled and I didn’t have insurance, I’d be better off going to the pharmacy across the street because it had better prices.

Until that moment, I had no idea different pharmacies charged different amounts for the same medication. I’m not sure why it was such a surprise since everything, from milk to gas, has a price that varies from place to place.

But there are so many pharmacies that it would be extremely time-consuming to check all of them, especially since the prices aren’t clearly listed in store. It would require me to either, call and inquire about a specific medication, or even show up in store to ask.

But by using the ScriptSave® WellRx website and mobile app, I can access their fast, easy, and free price-check tool. I put in my zip code here in Jacksonville, NC and I quickly see the specific prices for all of the pharmacies near me. It’s so much more convenient than having to make all of those phone calls.

Not only does the cost of the same medication vary from one pharmacy to the next, it can vary greatly. When I pay out of pocket for one of the medications for my son, it costs around $300. The ScriptSave WellRx app shows me the discounts available near me, making the current cost anywhere from $156.92 all the way up to $274.99.

That’s such a huge difference in price of the same medication, saving me over $100 every month. I like how easy ScriptSave WellRx makes the price check. With three growing boys, I can take those savings and apply them to the rest of the things they need, like soccer dues, 5k race registrations, and computer coding classes.

Because the ScriptSave WellRx card/app is free to download, requires no credit card information to be entered, and has no membership fee, it’s definitely worth trying. Maybe you’ll get a better deal by using your insurance or without ScriptSave WellRx, but it is so quick and easy to compare prices that I always check it before I call my son’s doctor for a refill on his prescription.”


For the best Rx price on
prescription medications,
visit www.WellRx.com.
Compare prices at more than
62,000 pharmacies nationwide.

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organizing your medications photo

For those who are new to the ScriptSave WellRx prescription savings program, you may not realize just how long our company has been in the business of saving patients money on their prescriptions. It’s actually well over 20 years – we date back to 1993.

As such, it’s certainly nothing new to us to encounter people ‘paying it forward’ and helping to spread the word. That said, in all that time, it had never occurred to us to open our website to guest bloggers – until now.

After years of working 12 hour days and living on a diet of frozen pizzas, diet soda and coffee, Ellen Christian decided that she’d had enough of being sick, tired and fed-up with everything. Taking matters into her own hands, she turned the tides and now writes about healthy living for busy women while also being a loving caregiver to her disabled husband. She lives in Castleton, VT and authors the extremely popular “Confessions of an Overworked Mom” blogsite. She reaches ~25,000 unique readers every month and we’re delighted that she also uses the ScriptSave WellRx program and that she agreed to write the following blog post for us…

“Be Prepared. Planning Pharmacy Visits Can Save Time As Well As Money
by Ellen Christian

Now is the time to get organized for cold and flu season. Since my husband is disabled, he has a reduced immune system. Staying healthy during cold and flu season is even more important to us because of this reason. An illness that I can fight off or that lasts me only a day or two can last him a week or more or turn into something more serious.

How to Get Organized for Cold and Flu Season

Living in Vermont, it seems like our cold and flu season lasts quite a while. Winter is the time of year when we get sick most frequently. Unfortunately, it’s also the time of year when we have snow, sleet, and bad weather. Hazardous driving conditions are just another reason why we try to get organized for cold and flu season. I don’t want to have to run to the store to get tissues or fill a prescription in the middle of a snowstorm.

Right now, I’m stocking up on tissues, orange juice, cough drops, Vitamin C, elderberry syrup and, of course, Marty’s prescriptions. Since he’s disabled, he has several prescriptions he takes each month to manage his symptoms. It can be fairly time-consuming to check the prices for each one with several drug stores. Prescription prices can change regularly so I cannot just assume I’m going to find the best price for everything all in one place.

I’ve been using an app and website called ScriptSave WellRx to save money on Marty’s prescriptions. When I searched on pharmacies in the Castleton, Vermont area, I was surprised at the options. I didn’t realize that my insurance didn’t always have the lowest price for every prescription. Did you know that you may be able to save more money by paying cash and using ScriptSave WellRx? – (Learn more about paying cash for prescriptions here).

ScriptSave WellRx gives “Medicine Chest Pricing” that lets me enter the details of several of Marty’s prescriptions at the same time. Then, I can click the “Price-check” button to see EITHER, the one single pharmacy that gives me the lowest ‘one-stop price’ OR the specific combination of pharmacies that give the lowest individual price for every single prescription.

That means I can stop at one pharmacy with the lowest overall price when I’m pressed for time. Or, I can go from store to store to get each one at the most affordable price when I want to. I can even save all of Marty’s prescriptions in one secure place so I can price-check them each month instead of re-entering them. That’s a huge time saver when you have multiple prescriptions. I just don’t have time to call all the different pharmacies in my area every month for all his prescriptions.

The card is totally free to use and you can get the app in the iTunes store or on Google Pay for free. There’s nothing lost to give it a try and see what you can save. There are no fees and it doesn’t need your credit card information. Plus, there is no way you’ll pay more for your prescription than you do right now. You’ll either get a discount or you can use your insurance like you normally would. Just have the pharmacist check the price with the card and with your insurance.

Give it a try and download it today. On average, members save around 45%, but prescription prices change all the time so it’s always worth re-checking before each refill (…and, as mentioned previously, this is made so much easier by using the ScriptSave WellRx ‘Medicine Chest’).  It’s easy to find savings and every little bit helps. Plus, it has convenient reminders that help keep you on track when you’re busy.


For the best Rx price on
prescription medications,
visit www.WellRx.com.
Compare prices at more than
62,000 pharmacies nationwide.

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Always ask the cash price - you could save on your prescriptions

The “he said/she said” of Rx pricing tools

If you’ve ever used a prescription price-check tool for an Rx savings program (like ScriptSave WellRx), only to have been told a different price when the time came to collect & pay for the prescription at the pharmacy, then the next few paragraphs are for you.

Regardless of the product or service, it’s an infuriating thing to be quoted one price online, but to then be confronted with a different reality at the store (unless, of course, the price comes down – then we love it).

What can be done to avoid bad price-quotes?

For patients using prescription savings programs, there are a few steps that can be taken to help reduce the potential for errors with an Rx price-check tool.

In short, there are some very important things to keep in mind when doing a price look-up with a prescription discount card and overlooking any single one of them has the potential to make a mess of things.

In no particular order, at ScriptSave WellRx we always recommend that our members keep the following pointers in mind:

    • Potential Problem #1
      Prescription prices can be volatile and it’s not uncommon to find regular (even daily) price changes across pharmacies in any given zip code.
    • Recommendation
      When using a price-check tool or mobile app to review the lowest prescription prices in your zip code, be sure to perform one final look-up on the same day that you end up collecting & paying for your script. As frustrating as it might be to discover that prices changed for your medication overnight, it’s far less frustrating to realize this before you leave home. Especially if you also discover that the same medication actually came down in price at a different pharmacy nearby (perhaps even giving you the opportunity to make arrangements to transfer the prescription).

     

    • Potential Problem #2
      Prescription medications come in many different strengths, forms, quantities, etc. There’s also the matter of brands & generics. However, a price-check tool for a prescriptions savings card like ScriptSave WellRx has to start somewhere – and the default settings on the website will generally only return pricing results for one very specific version of each medication. For example, perhaps the price-check tool will show results for the most commonly filled strength, quantity, form and manufacturer of the medication that you’re searching for.
    • Recommendation
      When the results of your price-check are returned by the website or mobile app, ALWAYS take a few minutes to review the details against the details on your prescription … and make the necessary manual changes (if any are needed) using the drop-down menus that determine the drug’s Strength, Quantity, Form, Brand/Generic, etc. (see Fig.1)

     

    FIGURE 1
    ask cash price filter - results image

    • Potential Problem #3
      Your pharmacist does not recognize or is not familiar with your prescription savings card.
    • Recommendation
      If you’re using the ScriptSave WellRx card or mobile app, you can be confident that if your pharmacy showed up in our price-check tool, it’s more than likely that we have a contract with them to accept your savings card. We do our best to keep our database up-to-date so as not to send members on a wild goose chase. Perhaps the best way to approach using a ScriptSave WellRx card is to do so with confidence. Although this program is NOT insurance, an Rx savings card includes the same pharmacy processing information that pharmacists see & use every day on all the different insurance cards they deal with. That being case, simply hand your ScriptSave WellRx card to the pharmacist, point to where the card shows the Rx BIN, Rx PCN, etc. and ask,
    “Would you please process my prescription using these details and let me know what my out-of-pocket cost will be?”

     

    If you’re absolutely sure that you’ve taken care of these 3 common issues and yet you’re still facing prices at the pharmacy that are higher than the quotes being shown on the ScriptSave WellRx website/app, there’s one more thing to double-check…

     

    • Potential Problem #4
      Your pharmacist used a different discount card.
    • Recommendation
      There are a number of reasons why this might have happened – and it can certainly be the result of an easy & honest mistake. For example, the ScriptSave WellRx card includes a set of codes that the pharmacist must enter into the computer before being able to tell you the price of your medication. If you look at your ScriptSave WellRx savings card or coupon, you’ll see where it says “RxBIN: 006053” (together with RxPCN, Group # and ID #). Similar codes also appear on insurance cards and they work in the same way.
       
      As with insurance, if you visit the same pharmacy each time, your name, address, DoB, etc. are saved on file for speed & convenience. As part of your saved pharmacy record, the pharmacy also stores a record of any insurance card or Rx Savings program that has been used in the past. Therefore, if you’ve used a different savings card but have since discovered more favorable pricing with ScriptSave WellRx, it’s very possible that the pharmacist simply assumed that your stored details were the same as the details on the WellRx card that you just handed him/her. Also keep in mind that no pharmacist ever wants a patient not to be able to afford their physician-prescribed medications. As such, they’re often on the lookout for ways to help their patients afford their meds (even if the patient doesn’t realize it). Therefore, even if you think you’ve never used another prescription savings card in your life before, it’s certainly not unheard of for a pharmacist to have used one on your behalf because he or she knew that it would save you some money and help you out. If that’s the case, the details pertaining to the RxBIN, RxPCN, etc. from that other card may very well be saved to your profile. This would explain why you’re receiving a discount … but not at the level that was indicated on the ScriptSave WellRx website.
       
      Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with your savings card and next time you think you might be in this situation, politely ask the pharmacist,
    “Is there any chance you can double-check the processing details, please? Can we just be sure that we’re using the ScriptSave WellRx details as shown here on this card/coupon/app, because I was quoted a slightly lower price earlier this morning, and I’m sure it was for the same strength & quantity that’s on this prescription?”

    U.S. Based Call Center Support

    Another useful hint to keep in mind is that all ScriptSave WellRx members are serviced by a toll-free customer support number (staffed by real people right here in the U.S.). If you ever have a problem, you can call the support line toll-free at 1-800-407-8156, Monday through Friday, from 9am to 8pm EST, and our friendly staff will be glad to help get to the bottom of any issues. Given the real-time need that many patients face with filling their prescriptions, if you’ve had issues at a particular pharmacy in the past, it might be helpful to call our support staff ahead of your next visit to fill your prescription. If necessary, our staff may be able to call your pharmacy on your behalf – ahead of your visit – so that everything is smoothed out before you arrive to pick-up and pay.

    Final Thought – Love your Pharmacist (and Always Ask the Cash Price)

    Please always keep in mind that pharmacists have a LOT going on and they can be incredibly busy. Although they can make it look simple at times, that’s generally a reflection of their professionalism & experience, and their role in a patient’s healthcare is not to be underestimated. Pharmacists are a truly valuable resource and they juggle a lot of different tasks. If you meet a pharmacist who looks at your prescription savings card and doesn’t immediately recognize it, don’t be surprised. We can’t expect every pharmacist, at every pharmacy, to recognize and remember every single savings card and insurance program that they have a contract with. More often than not, if you ask your pharmacist (politely) to try processing your prescription using the details on the card, they will be happy to give it a try. If that doesn’t work, and if you’re using a card from ScriptSave, you have a tollfree support number to call for assistance.

    As for “Always Ask the Cash Price” … that’s a must-do for patients who don’t want to over-pay (especially for those WITH prescription insurance). For more insights on this, read our blog post on why you should Always Ask the Cash Price.


    Download the free WellRx app from the iOS app store or the Google Play Store,
    and get registered to take advantage of our free medication adherence tools.

    If you’re struggling to afford your medications,
    visit www.WellRx.com to compare the cash price at pharmacies near you.
    You may find prices lower than your insurance co-pay!

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WNCT9 prescription savings story

GREENVILLE N.C. (WNCT) – Pharmacy prices can differ from store to store and should be treated like buying a car.

Most people think of just going to the pharmacy closest to them instead of looking around for their medication.

When in reality, it can differ by sometimes a significant amount.

There are different ways that you can go about finding these prices.

Certain apps will bring up every pharmacy within a number of miles of your current location.

From there, you type in the medication that you’re looking for and all of the prices will come up right in front of you.

A creator of one of those apps says he looks for the cheapest prices for everything else – so why not do it for our medication.

“Any pharmacies have an in store savings program for low cost drugs,” said Shawn Ohri, creator of ScriptSave WellRx. “But it doesn’t mean all drugs are low cost at that pharmacy, they’re bringing in a good number of prescriptions at a low cost but there may be others that don’t have a low cost.”

You can find apps like this in the Apple Store or the Google Play Store.

Some are free and others require a subscription.

9 On Your Side looked up some of the top medications used in Greenville and found a difference of almost $30 in some of the different locations, showing it really does work to look before you shop.

Top 10 Drugs (non-controls)  Greenville, NC
Reporting Period: Jan 2017 – June 2017
Date Prepared: 07/27/2017
Rank Drug     Lowest Pharmacy
1 AMLODIPINE BESYLATE     Harris Teeter Pharmacy
2 Generic form of Norvasc (High blood pressure, chest pain)

ATORVASTATIN CALCIUM

    Hometown Discount Pharmacy of Greenville
3 Generic form of Lipitor (High Cholesterol)

HYDROCHLOROTHIAZIDE

    Harris Teeter Pharmacy
4 Waterpill/Diuretic (High blood pressure and fluid retention)

METOPROLOL SUCCINATE

    Rite Aid Pharmacy
5 Generic form of Toprol (High blood pressure, chest pain, and heart failure)

GABAPENTIN

    Rite Aid Pharmacy
6 Generic form of Neurontin (Nerve pain medication – very common)

METOPROLOL TARTRATE

    Walmart Pharmacy
7 Generic form of Lopressor (High blood pressure, chest pain, and heart failure)

LEVOTHYROXINE SODIUM

    Walmart Pharmacy
8 Generic form of Synthroid (Thyroid hormone)

SERTRALINE HCL

    Harris Teeter Pharmacy
9 Generic form of Zoloft (Anxiety/Deperession)

LISINOPRIL

    Harris Teeter Pharmacy
10 Very common heart failure / high blood pressure medication.

PREDNISONE  Steroid used for inflammation.

    Walmart Pharmacy
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Savings card vs. savings coupon image scriptsave wellrx

What’s in a name and why does it matter?

Although many patients tend to think of the ScriptSave WellRx program as a coupon for their meds, your free prescription savings card is actually a lot more powerful.

In addition to the obvious differences, like the fact that you would normally only get to use a regular coupon for one transaction (related to just one very specific product, as stated on the face of the coupon), there are some additional and very important features that make for big differences between an Rx discount card (like ScriptSave WellRx) and a coupon.

Here are a couple of important things to keep in mind. Understanding these differences will also help to explain why an insurance provider can’t allow you use the ScriptSave discount in addition to their own reduced rates, or why a pharmaceutical manufacturer won’t allow you to apply their copay savings program together with our low prices.

  • A regular coupon works by lowering the end-price of a product, cutting it by the exact amount shown on the coupon. The coupon has a fixed value, and the retailer will subtract that fixed value from the current sales price. For example, the regular coupon might say, “Take $5 off the price of XYZ.” When this happens, the savvy consumer might decide to shop around in order to find the store that sells this product for the very lowest price…THEN s/he will receive an additional $5 off that lowest price upon surrendering the coupon.
  • In contrast, what we do with the ScriptSave WellRx program is to negotiate lower final costs for each specific medication. We don’t negotiate a fixed coupon value. Instead, we negotiate a final discounted price. This is a subtle but important difference. With our program we’re saying, “We can get you a specific medication for a negotiated final price of $X.” This being the case, if the patient can find a pharmacy that will fill their prescription for a final out-of-pocket cost that’s lower than our negotiated price (perhaps as a result of the drug being on a low copay list with their insurer), they may not want to use their Rx discount card for that particular medication. Meanwhile, the same patient may have a second prescription that’s not covered by insurance and where the ScriptSave out-of-pocket cost is the lowest discounted price available…in which case one script gets filled with ScriptSave and the other does not.

Can it be used with insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.?

Here’s another example to help illustrate. We’ll start by laying out three basic pricing options for filling a prescription at a given pharmacy…

  1. An insurance policy (including Medicare and Medicaid) includes a list of drugs (known as the Formulary) for which covered patients will pay a predetermined negotiated rate.
  2. Similar to the prescription drug formulary at an insurance company, the contracts that ScriptSave has negotiated with its pharmacy partners also result in pre-determined out-of-pocket costs. These rates are available to ANY patient who chooses to pay cash.
  3. At the same time, a generic drug list at a retail pharmacy shows the final prices for certain drugs at that pharmacy.

Of the three pricing options listed above, a patient is free to choose the price that makes the most sense for each of the prescriptions they are filling. However, this is a one-or-other choice. There’s simply no way to “stack/combine” the savings from an insurance payer together with the savings from a cash discount card, because the prices being offered under each option are contractually agreed and final.

Another way to put this is to say that, in the world of a regular coupon, the value of the coupon is always the same no matter which store it gets redeemed it at. Therefore, the final out-of-pocket cost for any product that has a coupon will vary based on how much the store is selling the product for in the first place. Meanwhile, an Rx savings card like the ScriptSave WellRx card will deliver a fixed final out-of-pocket cost (and so it’s the value of the discount that changes with every prescription being filled, relative to the original cash price for the drug in question).

In short, prescription savings programs are NOT coupons. While it might be easy to think of them in this way (and you may even hear us refer to them as such), it’s important to keep the differences in mind. Furthermore, you’ll want to choose your savings program based on its reputation and relationship with pharmacies … because it’s these relationships that matter when it comes time for the pharmacist to honor the savings card or mobile app.

As part of the Medical Security Card Company and ScriptSave suite of pharmacy programs, the ScriptSave WellRx program boasts well over 20 years (founded in 1994) of history and relationships with our pharmacy partners. We believe this helps make ScriptSave WellRx second-to-none.


Download the free WellRx app from the iOS app store or the Google Play Store,
and get registered to take advantage of our free medication adherence tools.
If you’re struggling to afford your medications,
visit www.WellRx.com to compare the cash price at pharmacies near you.
You may find prices lower than your insurance co-pay!

high medication prices image

by Leah Samera
University of Arizona College of Pharmacy
PharmD Candidate, Class of 2018

It’s one of the most common questions we hear at ScriptSave: “Why are prescription medications so expensive?” With insurance deductibles going up and insurance companies providing less reimbursement, drug prices are outpacing the inflation rate. So why do drug companies continue to charge exorbitant prices for medications? The simple answer is, because they can.

There are a number of factors that affect the cost of medications. In the United States, drug costs are vastly higher relative to other countries. What sets the U.S. apart is that drug manufacturing companies are permitted to set their own price for a given prescription drug. Conversely, in countries with national health insurance systems, a separate organization negotiates drug prices or rejects coverage if the manufacturer proposes what is felt to be an excessive cost.

Market Exclusivity

The reason why brand name drug manufacturers are able to set such high prices in the United States is because they are “protected” from competition, and they have a lot of negotiating power; this leads to those manufacturers having market exclusivity. Market exclusivity is when the FDA allows a manufacturer to market their drug without generic competition. According to Kesselheim, et al. the median length of post-approval market exclusivity is 12.5 years for widely used drugs and 14.5 years for highly innovative, first-in-class drugs.

New medications are automatically protected from generic competition for anywhere between 5 and 12 years. On top of that, manufacturers may also receive patents that can last 20+ years. These companies can even extend their patent period by testing in children through the pediatric exclusivity program. They can also apply for additional patents on nontherapeutic aspects of a drug, such as the method of administration, coating, and formulation. Manufacturers can thus periodically implement and patent small changes to a drug, thus prolonging their market exclusivity.

Pay for Delay

Aside from legal protection, some brand-name manufacturers have historically negotiated with and offered financial incentives to generic manufacturers to defer introduction of a generic product until a later time; this is referred to as pay for delay. Some brand-name manufacturers have even paid generic manufacturers to cancel introduction of their generic product altogether. Brand-name manufacturers have also offered rebates to third party administrators of prescription drug plans to promote their product versus others in its class.

What About Generic Drugs?

Generic products can become expensive as well because, for some drugs, there is lack of motivation to create additional generic competitors. The number of generic manufacturers for a given drug depends on factors such as the size of the target population for the drug, availability of ingredients, and mergers in the industry. Those generic manufacturers with little competition may then raise prices.

Dispense As Written

It is also important to note that there are several laws and people involved in the process of writing and distributing a prescription medication. Physicians write prescriptions, pharmacists fill and sell prescription medications, and patients and/or insurers pay for said medications. The separation in these roles can often lead to physicians being unaware of drug prices and therefore not taking this consideration into account in clinical decision making. Several states also may not require pharmacists to conduct generic substitution, and all states allow physicians to write dispense as written prescriptions that pharmacists cannot substitute with a generic product.

How to Save Money on Prescription Drugs

Fortunately, the ScriptSave WellRx prescription savings program offers instant prescription discounts at the register on both brand name and generic prescription medications. Over 62,000 pharmacies across the U.S. participate, and there’s no enrollment fee or usage limits. Although there are many forces in the market that increase drug costs, ScriptSave WellRx delivers prescription savings solutions that can help you and everyone in your household save money on medications — even pets!

Registered members have access to a free suite of personal wellness tools in the Medicine Chest, including:

  • Ask a Pharmacist
  • Pill Reminders
  • Refill Reminders
  • Medication Information (in both English and Spanish)
  • Medication Videos
  • Mood-tracking (to review side effects, etc.)
  • Price-check and Pharmacy Locator

Download the free WellRx app from the iOS app store or the Google Play Store, and get registered to take advantage of our free medication adherence tools. If you’re struggling to afford your medications, visit www.WellRx.com to compare the cash price at pharmacies near you. You may find prices lower than your insurance co-pay!

References:

  • Kesselheim AS, Avorn J, Sarpatwari A. The high cost of prescription drugs in the United States: origins and prospects for reform. JAMA 2016; 316:858–871. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27552619
  • https://www.wellrx.com/faq

For the best Rx price on
prescription medications,
visit www.WellRx.com.
Compare prices at more than
62,000 pharmacies nationwide.

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save money on prescriptions

wabc prescription savings storyby Nina Peneda

We price compare for everything from shoes to SUV’s. So why not for medicine? Especially for those uninsured, there are way to save thousands a year. Shrinking your pill bill may start with a few clicks. ScriptSave WellRx compared the generic form of the cholesterol drug, Crestor (rosuvastatin calcium), across the tri-state area.

It could cost you as much as $105.77 for a 10mg month’s supply but according to SciptSave WellRx, using it’s service and savings card, you could price shop that cash, no insurance price down to $16.70. A savings of $89.07.

Be a Smart Healthcare Consumer

“It just pays to be a smart consumer, even in healthcare, you need to be a healthcare consumer, instead of a healthcare patient,” said Shawn Ohri, of ScriptSave WellRx.

Big box stores, groceries and drug stores all offer membership clubs and discount cards to save on the sky-rocketing cost of medicine.

Free memberships in online services like ScriptSave WellRx, websites that provide coupons and negotiate discounts with pharmacies, allow your fingers to do the walking before you do the running around.

“There are many cases where we can actually beat your insurance co-pay, or if you’re in a high deductible health plan there are many cases where our price may be lower,” Ohri said.

For example, according to ScriptSave WellRx, in the low-income areas of the Bronx, the generic version of the popular sleep aid, Lunesta, for someone with no insurance can cost six times more at one store than at a pharmacy less than a mile away.

At Us Pharmacy lab in Northvale, New Jersey, Pharmacist David Yoon feels the comparison services are a good starting point for consumers looking to save.

“It’s not 100-percent accurate, but it gives you a ball park figure who’s cheapest in your neighborhood,” Yoon said.

Ohri suggests always calling the pharmacy to get an updated actual price. And, most importantly, steer clear of expensive name brand medication if it’s okay with your doctor to use the generic form.

“The price difference is astronomical. Sometimes the brand names can cost 50 to 100 times more, especially in the cases where you don’t have insurance,” Yoon said.

Pharmacists also recommend no matter where you are filling your scripts, consider the relationship with the provider and the safety which comes with having all your records on file.

The big takeaway: There are other ways to save. Ask your pharmacy what the cash or retail price of your prescription is it just might beat your insurance price. Price match. If you see a lower price somewhere else, ask your pharmacy to match or beat it. If they want to keep your business they will. And ask your doctor about an assistance program. If you qualify, you could get the prescription for free.

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PIX 11 News - Prescription Savings image

by Kirstin Cole, PIX 11 News, New York

Unlock secret savings on prescriptionsIt’s a growing strain on our bottom line:  more Americans taking ever more prescribed medications and spending more of their income to do it.

The toll is evident, as one in 10 of us can’t afford our medications and are simply going without.  It’s what’s inspired one group to use the insider info they gained working in the pharmaceutical business to beat the drug sellers at their own game.

Here’s how to unlock your own secret savings, necessary since prescription pills are a daily way of life for nearly 60 percent of Americans, and it’s pricey.

Natalie Stelzer of Brooklyn Heights was blunt: “They are off the charts.  So expensive. Co-pays are dismal.”

Even as politicians in Washington duke it out over health care reform, Americans continue to spend more on medications — up to a  projected $457 billion in 2015, and rising.

Robert Gibbons of Brooklyn Heights worries as he sees what his mother faces when it comes to her prescription dugs.  He sums it up as  “backward and profiteering.”

That’s where  ScriptSave WellRx comes in.

Shawn Ohri and his team decided to tackle it.  They’re insiders who’ve worked with pharmacies and drug makers for decades, and they’re committed to bringing savings to consumers.

“Customers can save up 80 percent off retail cost of prescriptions.  In 2016  we saved 1.3 billion dollars on their prescription costs.”

The comparison shopping all happens on their app and website, ScriptSave WellRx, and the savings can be stunning.

We comparison shopped for Crestor, the cholesterol drug, using the area around PIX11 in midtown.  Within a few blocks we found it for as little as $18, and all the way up to $239.

Whether with insurance, or without, Ohri’s company uses bulk buying of medicines to negotiate cheaper prices on drugs, often beating your insurance company’s pricing.

Other secret ways to save? Picking up one prescription where you grocery shop, another might be cheaper at the drug store, and yet another at a big box chain. The app does the leg work for you, wherever you live, work or shop.

Ohri explained that, “On top of that you are going to get our discount because of our group volume.  We’ve done all the negotiating with pharmacies.”

And with these negotiations, we all come out healthier winners.

See the entire story on Pix11.com.

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