Many Generic Meds Cheaper at Costco Than Medicare

By Robert Preidt
Health Day reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 7, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Can Costco beat Medicare Part D on prescription drug prices?

Apparently, a new study claims that found that about half of generic drugs were cheaper when purchased from a discount retailer than from the government program.

Researchers compared the prices paid by Medicare Part D plans (including direct patient payments) for 184 generic prescription drugs to the cash prices paid by Costco members for the same prescriptions in 2017 and 2018. Over 45 million Americans are enrolled in Medicare Part D, which covers outpatient prescriptions.

Compared to Costco member prices, Medicare topped 13% in 2017 and nearly 21% in 2018, the results showed. Medicare plan members paid more than Costco members on nearly 53% of 90-day dispensations in 2018. Of all 30- and 90-day prescription runs, Medicare plans overpaid 43% of the time, according to researchers at the University of Southern California (USC). .

“Our analysis shows that in systems like Costco’s, where incentives are put in place to deliver value directly to the consumer at the pharmacy counter, this is what is happening,” the author said. study Erin Trish. She is Associate Director of the USC Schaeffer Center and Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical and Health Economics at the School of Pharmacy at USC.

“It’s time to correct these incentives in the Medicare Part D system to put the patient first,” Trish said in a press release from USC.

His team published their findings online on July 6 in the form of a research letter in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Pharmacy benefit managers and other middlemen negotiate drug prices on behalf of Medicare, but they don’t appear to pass any savings from negotiated prices to plans and patients, the researchers say.

Generics account for 22% of Part D spending, so policymakers should take a closer look at the practices of these intermediaries, the team suggested.

Study author Geoffrey Joyce is director of health policy at the Schaeffer Center and chair of the department of pharmaceutical and health economics at USC School of Pharmacy. He said: “Efforts to reduce prescription drug prices tend to focus on brand name drugs, but the opaque drug supply system can also cause health plans and taxpayers to overpay for generics. ”

And Karen Van Nuys, executive director of the Value of Life Sciences Innovation program at the Schaeffer Center and assistant professor in the School of Public Policy at USC, added, “There is a lot of price competition between manufacturers for these drugs. , but this competition does not benefit The These are not small market drugs where there might be only one supplier who can quote their price.

More information

Medicare.gov has more information on Medicare Part D.

SOURCE: University of Southern California, press release, July 6, 2021

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