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InCrowd Survey: Cost and Physicians’ Role in Patient Adherence
By Sarah Mayer

In a rolling survey that spanned seven months, between August 2017 and February 2018, InCrowd asked over 2,200 physicians who work in a range of disciplines if and when they discuss medication pricing with their patients, and what they thought about pharma-sponsored patient support programs.

As one internal medicine practitioner in Wisconsin said, “If patients cannot pay for a prescription, it cannot help them.”

A primary care physician from Missouri reported that he has had patients “who are unable to get medication that I felt was best for them because they could not afford it.”

Almost all the physicians in our survey reported drug costs as a large consideration in their prescribing behavior:  

  • 81% indicated that they prescribe generics more frequently to help mitigate costs.
  • Almost 60% include the cost of medication in treatment conversations with patients “every time” or “often.”
  • 52% said they discuss insurance coverage with patients prior to prescribing medication.

Only 14% of physicians felt well informed regarding pharmaceutical patient support programs. According to the American Journal of Managed Care, these coupon and rebate programs allow patients to save over $600 on average, making them vital to patients’ ability to obtain their prescriptions and to the improved outcomes that come with prolonged treatment.

More research is needed to determine the resources available to notify physicians of patient medication subsidy opportunities, as well as to better understand the barriers to physician education regarding these programs.

A few physicians reported that a higher prescription price incentivized patients to be more adherent to treatment. For example, one nephrologist in Kentucky said, “If a patient has history of noncompliance, I’ll consider a more expensive medicine.”

Overall, physicians recognize the importance of low cost medications in empowering patients to maintain their treatment plans and manage their own health. More work must be done to inform practitioners about available pharmaceutical payment support programs and to encourage physicians to communicate these options to their patients.

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