More payers are zeroing in on copay coupons and discount cards, putting this time-honored marketing technique in jeopardy. In 2013, Express Scripts ($ESRX) targeted drugs with copay discounts when tossing 48 products off its national formulary. Now, UnitedHealthcare has expanded its stamp-out-coupons pilot program to cover 25 more drugs, and some smaller PBMs and insurers are making similar moves.
For drugmakers, that means copay coupons will have to be handled with care. Given the consolidation in the pharmacy benefits management world, payers have more power than ever, and they don’t like it when their own cost-control strategies are circumvented by pharma marketing techniques.
Obviously, they’re taking action. As Health Business Daily reports, UnitedHealthcare was pleased with the results of its coupon-elimination pilot program, launched last year with 6 drugs in mind. As of Jan. 1, 2014 another 25 meds have joined the bunch. UnitedHealthcare simply won’t honor those coupons. The strictures don’t apply to patients who are getting need-based copay assistance.