Will Copay Cards Doom Rebates?

Only 20% of the people I surveyed believe that copay card success could ultimately be the end to pharmaceutical rebates, but I think it’s a fascinating discussion topic.

If you’re a manufacturer, you have a finite budget to drive sales of your product. That budget can go to DTC advertising, market access (i.e., rebates), samples, copay cards, adherence programs, physician education, detail reps, and a few other areas.

The question of course is what do you get for your rebate dollar. Would I rather pay a $10 rebate to the PBM based on formulary status or would I rather offer a $10 “coupon” to the consumer to fill my drug?

This leads to a lot of questions:

  • What does formulary status gain you in terms of increased market share above national market share?
  • Could formulary status with Medicare / Medicaid get you trickle down effects that make you care less about formulary status within a plan or PBM?
  • Do copay cards work to gain new marketshare, get new starts, reduce primary adherence, reduce abandonment, or improve MPR?
  • Will your drug be affected utilization management programs?
  • Which builds better long-term brand equity?
  • Will health reform change anything in terms of the individual’s ability to access drugs (i.e., PBM of one)?
  • Which is more likely to influence a physician – formulary status or copay relief?
  • If there are less “me-too” drugs will the majority of relevant drugs be “on-formulary” due to clinical reasons so you can’t gain much?
  • How will personalized medicine impact the formulary concept in the long-term?

I’m in the middle of researching the topic of copay cards for my AIS webinar on July 13th. It has uncovered a few nuggets about changing PBM and manufacturer relationships, support for these programs, proof points, and other items I’ll share then.

Of course, if it became clear that these cards were being used for market access not for adherence and improving outcomes, that would put these two on a head-to-head collision course. Or, if these tools slow down the generic adoption curve post patent-expiration, that could also draw some attention across the industry. (I believe Lipitor will be a big test of this since the increased margin from generic Lipitor is already factored into the PBM valuations and impacting that would impact stock price which would be a big deal.)

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