CVS Pharmacy recently announced the launch of the CVS Pharmacy Rx Savings Finder Program, a new software tool that will allow its 30,000 pharmacists to explore less expensive options when filling patient prescriptions.
While pharmacists have been offering patients generic brand options in place of brand name options for a number of years, this new software will flag less expensive drugs that are a therapeutic equivalent but may be a different drug or alternative therapy to what the doctor has prescribed. When this happens, the pharmacist will alert the patient and then ask permission from their doctor to switch over to the alternative solution. This new prescription management tool will also be made available directly to consumers through the CVS Caremark app.
In recent years, big pharmaceutical companies and those in the business of negotiating these benefits have come under scrutiny for the pricing of prescription drugs. There is also concern about multiple consolidations of big pharma in recent years, including CVS, who recently bought the health insurance company Aetna for $69 billion. The White House also weighed in, with the Trump administration voicing its concern regarding these mergers and calling for possible change.
With each insurance plan differing in their level of coverage and the amount of cost pushed back to the patient, CVS is hoping that this new tool will help patients, pharmacists and doctors to save money.
CVS’s Kevin Hourican, executive vice president of retail for the pharmacy, said that the coverage will account for these specific insurance coverage levels and offer solutions that vary from patient to patient, based on how the insurance plans have built their lists of covered drugs. This will save time for the pharmacist spent searching for alternatives, with the solutions being right at their fingertips.
The medical world, traditionally filled with paper files, has become increasingly digitized in recent years, though fewer than 10,000 doctors are using electronic health records when writing a prescription at this time, according to CVS. While there will be a learning curve, it is expected that many doctors will find this new software useful. Patients using this new software during the testing period were saving an average of $75 on new prescriptions and were allowing doctors greater transparency as to the costs that patients are incurring when filling a prescription.
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