Friday, September 22, 2023

A Clear Path to Medication Affordability Requires Meeting Patients Where They Are

Today’s guest post comes from Kristina Crockett, VP of Product Management at CoverMyMeds.

Kristina shares the story of a patient who cut pills in half to extend her prescriptions. Unfortunately, this patient didn’t know about manufacturer affordability programs.

In this article, Kristina reviews how brands can help patients make connections that address medication affordability challenges, whether at the prescriber’s office, the pharmacy, or at home.

To learn about CoverMyMeds’ medication affordability solutions that engage patients, download the CoverMyMeds white paper: Overcoming Affordability Challenges with Patient-Centered Solutions.

Read on for Kristina’s insights.

A Clear Path to Medication Affordability Requires Meeting Patients Where They Are
By Kristina Crockett, VP, Product Management, CoverMyMeds

Rising temperatures during the summer do more than bring uncomfortably hot days for Dawn, who lives by herself in a small Missouri town about 200 miles from St. Louis. They also mean higher electricity bills, forcing her to make difficult choices to meet basic needs.

Dawn suffers with a complex constellation of health conditions including paraplegia. She shared with CoverMyMeds that she’s resorted to cutting her nerve pain pills in half to make them last longer. She has such a tight budget that sometimes, fresh food becomes a luxury. “I'm very fortunate we have a food pantry here in town—I've had to utilize it several times,” she said.

Dawn has a regimen of pills and injectables competing for her dollars, including medicines to treat diabetes, arthritis, systemic lupus, Barrett’s esophagus, Raynaud’s phenomenon and Isaacs syndrome. When she cuts pills to stretch out a prescription, more pain is the result. But, “you’ve got to do what you got to do,” she said.

Affordability challenges can mean patients don’t take their medication as prescribed, if they take it at all. The latest CoverMyMeds patient survey found 33% of respondents said they modified their prescription schedule to “stretch out” their medication, with 28% of those reporting cost as the primary reason (2023 CoverMyMeds Patient Survey).

Unfortunately, cost barriers can also lead to significant medication abandonment: 59% of patients have arrived at the pharmacy and learned their medication cost more than expected. Of those, one in four left the pharmacy without their medication because they could not afford it (2023 CoverMyMeds Patient Survey).

To help patients like Dawn afford their prescribed medications and stay on treatment, pharmaceutical companies can leverage full-spectrum, technology-based innovations in medication affordability. These solutions feature smart program design and patient engagement tools that open a dialog between brands and patients.

In this article, I’ll review how brands can make connections that address medication affordability challenges across the patient journey, whether at the prescriber’s office, the pharmacy or at home.

Patient engagement helps overcome medication affordability barriers

Patient engagement is a critical part of medication affordability. Many times, patients aren’t aware of the affordability options available to them. The channels to find information about help paying for medications can be disparate and confusing. Sometimes, the issue doesn’t even come up in conversation with the patient’s healthcare team. Dawn, for example, said she has been too embarrassed to talk with her provider or pharmacist about options to help her afford her medications.

Affordability information and services surfaced in provider and pharmacy workflows connect the dots across sites of care to address medication access challenges such as a denied claim, a deductible not yet met or a copay that’s unaffordable. Brands get the benefit of reporting and insights that can guide future program parameters based on trends.

In addition, an automatic coupon solution can be applied to all eligible commercial claims for a brand across the CoverMyMeds network of more than 50,000 pharmacies, without any need for the patient or pharmacist to request the coupon. Alternatively, patients who hear about a brand’s copay card program from their prescriber or from searching online can enroll through a direct-to-consumer platform to receive a discount at the pharmacy that enables them to leave with the prescription they need. That touchpoint also begins a conversation between the patient and a brand that can continue, enabling the brand to provide ongoing support and resources for patients.

Back at the pharmacy, in the event patients don’t present their copay cards, they get access to automatic coupons until they reach their copay threshold. Screening capabilities can help block pharma copay savings from being applied to known government-funded programs, and unique cardholder IDs help ensure one patient isn’t enrolling in a program multiple times.

Bridging the affordability divide

Ask any pharmacist how their day is going, and it’s likely they will share stories of patients facing medication affordability challenges: 58% say they help patients with prescription benefit questions multiple times a day (2023 CoverMyMeds Pharmacist Survey).

Dawn said she was contemplating a move to Mississippi to be closer to family, but she worried about the impact of inflation on her ability to pay for her medications. “I think it's going to be rough,” she said. “I think I’m going to have to really buckle down and say OK, I need this. I can do without that. I can buy basic groceries and get by.”

With the knowledge of and access to affordability options such as copay programs, patients have a much better shot at being able to access their medications, shoulder rising expenses like higher electricity bills and pay for basic necessities.


Learn how CoverMyMeds can help brands make the right connections to help navigate the complex landscape of medication affordability barriers in our white paper: Overcoming Affordability Challenges with Patient-Centered Solutions.

Sponsored guest posts are bylined articles that are screened by Drug Channels to ensure a topical relevance to our exclusive audience. These posts do not necessarily reflect our opinions and should not be considered endorsements. To find out how you can publish a guest post on Drug Channels, please contact Paula Fein (

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