Do you ever have to pay out of pocket for your prescription drugs that aren't covered by your insurance? Or perhaps your insurance copay has kept rising each year, and your drug costs have increased significantly? Are you a coupon clipper? Are you willing to take some extra time to find a good price on an item you need to buy? Then there is good news for you. Some pharmaceutical companies are now offering coupons or free trial periods on their most popular patented drugs as part of their direct-to-consumer marketing strategies. Direct-to-consumer marketing is still fairly controversial, but you can use it to your advantage if a drug you are taking is being marketed to consumers.
About Direct-To-Consumer MarketingMarketing directly to consumers through television, print and radio advertising is a hot topic among healthcare professionals. Some physicians think that direct marketing helps patients take a more active role in their own health care. Other physicians feel that they are under pressure when patients come into their office and ask for a drug that they have seen in an advertisement. The drug that the patient asks for might not be the one that is the most appropriate.
For years, patients, doctors, and legislators have railed against the high cost of prescription medications. Drugs that are not covered under many insurance plans include contraceptives and weight loss and erectile dysfunction medications. Because patients often take these so-called "lifestyle" drugs for extended periods of time, pharmaceutical companies are interested in enticing patients into becoming loyal customers.
Saving Money With GenericsSome pharmaceutical companies are finding their profits decrease as generic forms of their popular drugs become available to consumers. Generics may prompt pharmaceutical companies to offer savings on some of their best selling drugs. Generic drugs often cost less than their name-brand counterparts, making them attractive alternatives. If patients, physicians, and insurance companies find they can save money with a generic equivalent, they will often choose that instead of the higher cost name brand.
"The First One Is Free"The topic of free drug trials or coupons for drugs is a controversial one for patient advocates. Some argue that a patient may want to continue taking a patented drug after the free trial period, but may not be able to pay for it. Drugs that are still on patent can carry a high price tag and insurance companies may not be willing to pay if there is a cheaper alternative. This is especially true for newer medications.
The other side of the debate is that the discounted price on medications will be a boon to patients who might not be able to get the drug any other way. Physicians often rely on drug samples or assistance programs for patients who are uninsured and can't afford the out of pocket cost, or whose insurance won't cover the cost of the medication they need. For these patients, a coupon or free sample is a short-term solution. But the larger problem of not having any insurance coverage for an expensive drug will remain after the trial period is over.