Manufacturer coupons for high-cost medications, such as those that treat hepatitis C, make a huge difference for patients. Today’s hepatitis C medications have the potential to cure the majority of infected people; however, they can come with a steep price tag for both patients and payers.
In order to bring down excessively high cost shares for patients, most branded manufacturers offer coupons to decrease insurer-required member costs. For hepatitis C medications, this can bring the out-of-pocket cost for a patient from $1,349 for a 30-day supply for sofosbuvir, for example, down to $28. After reviewing more than 13 million insured patients in 2014, research shows that manufacturer coupons providing these kinds of cost savings result in better patient adherence.
Looking at the numbers in more detail, it was determined that adherence tracked closely with how much a patient paid out-of-pocket for an initial supply of hepatitis C medication.
Patient Cost Non-Adherence
$250 – <$10,000 7.2%
Manufacturer coupons are not the only way to bring down hepatitis C treatment costs. In the future in the U.S., generic versions of direct-acting antivirals for the treatment of hepatitis C could become available. According to a report presented at The International Liver Congress 2016 in Barcelona, Spain, generic sofosbuvir, ledipasvir, daclatasvir, and ribavirin produce high sustained virologic response (SVR). This demonstration of safety and effectiveness could mean new options for patients who can’t afford the high costs of branded versions of these medications. Specifically, the research showed an overall SVR rate of 94% for all genotypes from the generic direct-acting antivirals; however, at a reduced cost of branded versions.
Regardless of these cost issues, what is not in dispute is this: treating hepatitis C infection is more cost effective than later treating the complications of hepatitis C such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Karmarkar TD, Starner CI, Qiu Y, et al. Sofosbuvir initial therapy abandonment and manufacturer coupons in a commercially insured population. Am J Manag Care 2016;22(5 Spec Issue No. 6):SP191-7.
Kwan SW. Pricey pills for an even pricier problem. Cancer 2016;122(6):840-1.
European Association for the Study of the Liver. Low-cost generic direct-acting antiviral treatment for hep C is equivalent to branded formulations: New data indicate that generics are a feasible alternative to support access to direct-acting antiviral treatment for hepatitis C sufferers. ScienceDaily April, 16 2016.
Stephen C. Vogt, Pharm.D.
President and CEO
BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy
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