NCL: Patients concerned about therapeutic substitution

WASHINGTON Nearly 75% of consumers would feel “very concerned” if a drug they used was switched to another drug designed to treat the same condition without their doctors’ knowledge, according to a new survey by the National Consumers League. One-in-5 said they still would be concerned if their doctors knew.

The practice, known as therapeutic substitution, has become common among insurance companies as healthcare costs have increased. The practice involves switching a medication that is not chemically equivalent or simply a generic version, but belongs to the same class as what the patient already takes.

“Consumers are justifiably concerned about the practice of therapeutic substitution, how it’s done and who’s involved,” NCL executive director Sally Greenberg said. “For some conditions and treatments, it may make good financial and medical sense to swap out one prescription for another. But, as consumers reported in our survey, it’s essential for them to be part of the process, to know their doctor is aware and supportive of the switch and to feel confident that their health and treatment – not financial incentives – are top priority.”

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