Study finds increase in retail co-pays for prescription drugs

Increase affects generic, branded, specialty drugs

PLANO, Texas — Retail co-pays for drugs are on the rise across all drug types, according to a new study by the Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute.

The study, based on a survey of 424 U.S. employers representing about 3.7 million members, found that retail co-pays increased 10% for generics, 13% for branded drugs and 26% for specialty drugs. Meanwhile, there was an increase in use of multitier designs, which now represent 92% of plan sponsors, while adoption of medication therapy management for commercial populations was "minimal."

"Readers of this report can expect to see all of the survey results broken out by larger and smaller employers, a new change for this year," PBMI executive director Brenda Motheral said. "This report is the only industry report that captures data provided by plan sponsors about their pharmacy discount rates; and this year, we had a record number of plan sponsors sharing details about their pharmacy reimbursement and rebate amounts."

The differential gap between tiers continued to grow, as the average differential between generic and preferred brand co-pays was $19, compared to $7 in 2007. The average differential between preferred and nonpreferred co-pays was $23, compared with $13 in 2007.

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