Why Do Drugs Cost So Much? A Study of the Implications on Patients,
Providers, and Payers
Drug cost is due to the drug companies needing to make a profit on the products they are selling and the use of expensive technologies to produce the medications. There are many patient assistance programs available to help assist with the cost of their prescription medications.
The purpose of this study is to research the entire process drugs go through before they enter the market, analyze the top 100 drugs dispensed at the Cleveland Clinic, and apply these findings to the number of assistance options available. The research included discussing the FDA pipeline for drugs, comparing brand versus
generic drugs, and analyzing how the Cleveland Clinic assists patients. The top 100 drugs dispensed at all Cleveland Clinic pharmacies were identified, matched to drug lists of existing Cleveland Clinic assistance programs, and also tagged if it was determined that that drug needed more options available to anyone in need of aid with paying for their medications. The research included comparing brand-name versus generic drugs,
discussing limitations in access to medications due to costs, and examining how the Cleveland Clinic, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance companies support and assist patients.
Twenty-five percent of the top 100 drugs are brand-name and 75% are generic. Most of the top 100 drugs Cleveland Clinic dispenses have patient assistance programs – 46% had co-pay cards, 26% had coupons, vouchers, or trial offers, 6% had Virtual Samples. One percent was over-the-counter and 21% did not have any assistance
available. A system for keeping track of the vouchers, co-pay cards, and coupons should be implemented and an updated brochure should be used to inform patients about drug assistance programs available to them.