Company news: NIH, CVS
Even if co-pay cards manage to break into Massachusetts, the war is far from over – CVS is taking an increasingly hard line against the discount cards, reported the Wall Street Journal. The cards, which lower a patient's point-of-purchase cost are a disputed promotional tactic among critics who say the cards drive up the cost of care by keeping patients wedded to higher-priced medications. A spate of lawsuits allege that these cards are a form of fraud, because payers aren't aware a card was used when a patient went to purchase the medication, and the full brunt of the cost only surfaces at a later cost. Critics say this undermines the very incentives for lower prescription costs that employers buy into when they choose prescription plans. CVS told the Journal its ban on co-pay cards is just part of an overall strategy to contain costs for its pharmacy benefits management business – the company began blocking drugs in January, with the guideline being drugs with modest sales. The WSJ said half of those banned treatments had co-pay cards attached to them and the others were drugs for which manufacturers didn't want to pay rebates.CVS is issuing its latest line of blocked medications July 1 and the ban will go into effect next year, reported the Journal. CVS said in its 2012 Insights report that it also plans to clamp down on costs with narrower formularies and penalizing “dispense as written” directives.