Friday, September 20, 2019

"We only have to sell one!" - Chain Pharmacy Pricing Philosophy

And, my, isn't that just ducky....

An international student came into my old pharmacy in January of this year, stricken with anxiety, migraines, and confusion.  She presented this price quote from a nearby chain for three generic medications and wondered if my little clinic pharmacy would have a better price.  Her international insurance told her that this chain was able to fill for her and that she could get 20% of her cost reimbursed.
So I looked at the meds in question, knowing they were all rather inexpensive generics, and ran a quick price comparison with the usual charges from the clinic site.
Topiramate (generic for Topamax) would have cost her $50 with them.  My cost was $15.
Sumatriptan (generic for Imitrex) was originally quoted to her as over $330, but the manager there said they could cut it as a discount for $156.  My usual cost was $45.
Ondansetron (generic for Zofran) was quoted at over $120.  My clinic's cost was $15.
I checked with the prescriber to make the ondansetron a regular tablet vs the ODT version, and cut the price further to $10.  
So the chain wanted over $320 as their best price.  Mine turned out to be $65.

This year seems to be The Big One for crushing independent pharmacies, with slaughtered reimbursement from the major insurance companies and their Pharmacy Benefits Managers (PBMs).  Chains will just throw the burden on the backs of the uninsured.  Independents will become a faded memory.

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