Pharmacy Times

Information Steers Consumers Toward Low-Cost Drugs


CIGNA Pharmacy Management generic-conversions program saved consumers money in 2003. The results showed that consumers will make decisions to save money on medications by using generic prescription drugs when they have access to reliable information regarding their options and cost differences.

CIGNA members using Generics Plus and Generic Solutions programs saved an average of $14 for each 30-day prescription that was converted from a brand name drug to a generic. Self-funded plan sponsors or employers, who pay the balance of the cost of the medications, saved an average of $46 for each monthly medication. CIGNA Pharmacy Management estimates that annual savings in these 2 programs could be in the ballpark of >$12 million.

"Generic medications can be a good choice for many consumers, because they offer therapeutically equivalent benefits at a reduced cost," said Jon Maesner, vice president of policy and strategy for CIGNA Pharmacy Management. "But there are also patients for whom generic medications are not preferable. That's why our voluntary program encourages consumers to discuss their treatment options with their doctors."

Under the Generics Plus and Generic Solutions programs, members who filled a brand name prescription that had a generic equivalent received a letter informing them of their potential savings if they switched to generic alternatives for their prescriptions. Also included with the letter was information from the FDA regarding the safety and effectiveness of generic drugs. Members were urged to discuss with their physician whether a generic alternative would be suitable for them.