Survey Finds Consumers in Pain Over High Prescription Prices, In Need of Better Tools

April 15, 2021
Jill Murphy, Associate Editor

Scripta surveyed 372 respondents between 18 and 60 years of age about American attitudes and behaviors around prescription drug pricing.

A survey from Scripta Insights found that some of the first words that come to consumers’ minds when thinking of prescription drugs are “expensive,” “necessary,” and “cost(ly).”

Scripta surveyed 372 respondents between 18 and 60 years of age about American attitudes and behaviors around prescription drug pricing. All respondents have health insurance through their employer and take 1 or more prescription drugs on a regular monthly basis.

The results of the survey found that despite having health insurance, approximately 66% of the respondents think they pay too much for prescription drugs. A further analysis showed that this directly correlates to how much they spend out of pocket monthly, ranging from 45% for those spending under $15 to 86% for those who spend $50 or more.

In addition, 52% of respondents believe that pharma companies are the number 1 offender of high prescription drug prices, followed by insurance companies (17%) and the government (15%). Marketing/advertising, drug ingredients/manufacturing, and research and development were the highest 3 factors that respondents felt drove prescription drug pricing.

The survey also revealed that 71% of the respondents believe that coupon and discount services are helping to solve the high cost of prescription drugs. However, only 16% of people report looking for a coupon when they cannot afford their medications.

“Pharmacy coupon and discount services aren’t treating the condition of high prescription drug prices, they’re merely treating its symptoms; they’re not getting rid of your brain tumor, they’re just making your headache feel better today,” said Eric Levin, CEO of Scripta Insights, in the press release. “Coupon services are all promoting the same [pharmacy benefit manager]-based system that is the hidden culprit behind the high costs on the majority of drugs in the US.”

The majority (73%) of people surveyed who are on a deductible plan know where they are with their deductible and the impact it will have on their prescription costs before they go to the pharmacy. At the pharmacy counter, more than half of people (57%) have asked whether the cash price of a drug is cheaper than the price through their insurance, whereas 60% of patients have asked their physician the cost of a drug when getting a new script.

Although the survey found that the most popular action respondents take is asking their physician for a cheaper option before a pharmacist, 51% do not believe their physician knows the price they will pay for the drug they are prescribing.

“People trust their physicians and want to take the medicine their doctor prescribes, but affordability has a major impact on adherence—I’ve seen it with my own patients,” said Paul Bradley, MD, chief medical officer and head of the P&T Committee at Scripta Insights, in the press release. “Believe it or not, most physicians don’t know the cost of a drug or what the member copay is on your insurance plan when they write your prescription.”

As for changing medications to save money, more than half of people (58%) have received a recommendation to take a different less expensive drug for their medical condition, with advice coming from trusted sources, such as a physician or pharmacist (54%), or non-experts, such as a family member or friend (32%).

Further, 96% of respondents are willing to make a prescription change, such as switching their prescription, if their physician said it was allowed, to pay less for their medications. Approximately half of those surveyed (46%) are willing to switch to a new medication to save as little as $15 per month.

The most popular prescription switches people are willing to make include switching from a brand name to a generic drug (70%) and switching to a different brand name drug (52%).

In order to save on the cost of prescription drugs, approximately 25% of patients are willing to:

  • Get a new prescription for a higher dosage pill and split it in half with a pill splitter
  • Switch to a different pharmacy
  • Take 2 prescription drugs instead of 1
  • Take a different form of drug (such as a gel instead of a cream)
  • Take the drug more frequently such as twice daily instead of once daily)

REFERENCE

Consumers in pain over high prescription prices, ready to take action and in need of better tools, according to survey by scripta insights. Scripta Insights [email]. Accessed April 14, 2021.