Friday, May 17, 2024

HCP Perspectives: Access Challenges in Treating Diabetes & Obesity

Today’s guest post is from Dr. Preeti Parikh, a practicing pediatrician and VP, Executive Medical Director at GoodRx.

At the recent Publicis Health Media HealthFront event, Preeti hosted a dialogue on the main stage with Dr. Minisha Sood. They discussed new GoodRx research and had a candid discussion about their daily challenges in caring for patients—especially those living with diabetes and obesity.

Click here to watch the full video of the conversation between Drs. Parikh and Sood.

Read on for Preeti’s insights.

HCP Perspectives: Access Challenges in Treating Diabetes & Obesity
Preeti Parikh, M.D., VP, Executive Medical Director at GoodRx

Recently GoodRx partnered with healthcare media agency Publicis Health Media (PHM) at its 2024 HealthFront event. I was fortunate to host a session that featured new GoodRx research and a candid discussion about the daily challenges specialists face in caring for patients.

Sharing the stage with me was my friend and colleague, Dr. Minisha Sood, an endocrinologist and Co-founder and Co-owner of Fifth Avenue Endocrinology in NYC. In addition to reviewing highlights of new GoodRx research into medication affordability, Dr. Sood and I had a frank conversation about the issues HCPs face in the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes and obesity, including the administrative burden, patient out-of-pocket costs, and drug shortages.

What follows are some highlights of our conversation, and images of relevant data from a recent GoodRx site-intercept study.

Preeti: When I started 15 years ago, cost conversations weren't always top of mind. But now, in every patient encounter we talk about cost. It has also become a bigger factor in my decisions about treatment plans and in the amount of time and energy my staff puts into prior authorization, pharmacy calls, and calls between my colleagues and patients about other medications when they can't afford them.

Minisha: I have patients who really rely on GoodRx to get savings for their medications. When I send prescriptions, I look up GoodRx coupons myself and include that information in the prescription to just make it easier for the patients at the pharmacy, to decrease phone calls on either side of that equation.

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Preeti: New research from GoodRx mirrors what I’m seeing in my practice. Eighty percent of consumers visiting GoodRx are insured, 35% of have incomes over $100,000 a year, and 37% are looking for discounts on drugs their insurance won’t cover. It’s surprising that even people with insurance and higher incomes still have issues affording their prescriptions.

Minisha: I have three full-time staff to deal just with insurance prior authorizations, field phone calls from upset patients and pharmacies, and review forms, sign them, and send them in. And this goes on day after day.

With the rise in Type 2 diabetes and advancements in therapy, it's been frustrating to see many patients not staying in their recommended blood glucose range. Part of the reason is that these drugs remain exorbitantly expensive for those who also need testing supplies, and possibly insulin.

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The ADA guidelines expanded first-line therapy to include some of these newer medications. And yet, clinicians are not able to always use these medications because of their high out-of-pocket (OOP) costs and supply shortages. Patients are scrambling month-to-month to find a supply—and the finances—to support their need for these medications.

Preeti: We’ve seen the headlines about the effectiveness of the new weight loss medications, but do they create new challenges for you?

Minisha: Before 2021 clinicians were able to quietly prescribe GLP-1s off-label for obesity and a range of conditions on the spectrum of metabolic syndrome. They helped patients avert progression, which had huge implications for extending their healthspan and lifespan.

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Around 2022 the greatly expanded use of GLP-1s caused supply to dwindle, and insurance companies realized they were spending more on these medications and therefore became much more stringent about patients meeting clinical criteria for obesity. So, patients who may have been pre-diabetic and using a GLP-1 off-label no longer had it covered by insurance. That's where GoodRx coupons can help.

Preeti: Some GLP-1s have or are being studied for other indications. How has that impacted your practice?

Minisha: Expanded indications for GLP-1s will exacerbate the shortages. Combine that with other obesity medications having manufacturing issues, plus the newer meds not being covered by Medicare. That can leave many patients in a precarious treatment gap.

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Preeti: In addition to supply challenges, I agree that patient affordability and access is definitely an issue. And these situations prompt a lot of HCPs and their patients to look for a platform like GoodRx where they can find—in one place—medication copay and cash solutions across both retail and specialty. For example, over 150 prescription brands have leveraged the GoodRx platform to help eligible patients access their copay programs, and more than 30 brands use GoodRx to offer cash-pay programs for their treatments.

I've talked to many of my colleagues about where they go at the point of diagnosis to determine which medications to prescribe, which medications their patients can afford, and also which medications will decrease the back and forth for their office staff in dealing with prior auth or other issues. They consistently say that GoodRx addresses these recurring pain points, and as a physician who also uses GoodRx, I would have to agree.

Click here to watch the full “HCP Perspectives” video with Drs. Parikh and Sood.

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