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Cutting Diabetes Drug Costs Through Innovative Programs


By David Costill

An interview with Troyen Brennan, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer at CVS Health. 

What prompted the need for development of the Reduced RX Program?

Increasing access to affordable medications is the cornerstone of CVS Health’s commitment to helping people on their path to better health.  The Reduced RX prescription savings program builds on that purpose by offering discounts on certain medications directly to patients. The program follows another important affordability announcement we made earlier this year, making a more affordable epinephrine auto-injector, generic Adrenaclick, available for people with life-threatening allergies. 


Can you tell me how the Reduced RX Program works? Can the program be used with pharmacy benefits? 

This program is designed to help patients with high out of pocket costs afford essential medications by offering a lower price on specific medications when the card is presented at a participating pharmacy. 

Patients using the Reduced Rx prescription savings program will need to pay the cost of the medication out of pocket; the program cannot be used with any prescription drug insurance coverage.


Which drugs does the program cover?

Through this program, Human insulin, Novolin R, Novolin N, and Novolin 70/30 can be purchased for $25 per 10mL vial, which reflects a potential savings of as much as $100 for cash paying patients.  


You worked with Novo Nordisk on this particular program? What made Novo the right partner for this program? Do you foresee partnering with other drugmakers in the future?

The program evolved from a desire on behalf of both companies to develop an insulin affordability solution. CVS Health and Novo Nordisk have a long-standing business relationship and both share strong heritages in supporting people with diabetes so the partnership on insulin makes sense. Following this offering with Novo Nordisk, CVS Health intends to expand the Reduced Rx prescription savings program to other medications and to address other conditions.  


Could you ever foresee a program of this sort becoming the norm—essentially eliminating the need for payers to be involved in pharmacy transactions?

No, I don’t foresee that. Many patients with diabetes have a co-pay of less than $25 for insulin. The Reduced Rx program is focused on providing affordable access to insulin for uninsured, underinsured, or people with high-deductible health plans, but it isn’t insurance.  


Do you think Reduced RX will have an impact on insulin adherence rates? Do you have any data yet to support the potential positive outcomes associated with the program?

Access to affordable medication is an important factor having a positive impact on medication adherence. Our expectation is that this program, which launches in May 2017, will increase access and has the potential to also improve adherence for insulin. From other work we have done, we can estimate this could boost adherence by greater than 10 percent.   


Which other medications does CVS plan to expand the program to cover?

In the future, we may have additional announcements about what medications and conditions will be part of the Reduced Rx prescription savings program.  


Is there anything else about the Reduced RX Program that you’d like to add?

Beginning in May 2017, patients can use the Reduced Rx prescription savings program to purchase medications at a reduced cost at any of the more than 67,000 pharmacies in the CVS Caremark retail network, including the more than 9700 CVS pharmacy locations. 

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