We know a little about drug coupons. We are not merely an aggregator of drug coupons. We have lots of rich content regarding how drug coupons work, their history and classification.
Not only coupon clickers visit this site. Pharmaceutical industry scholars, PBM administrators, journalists and marketing professionals who are interested in drug coupons visit this site regularly.
We have been cited in insurance industry reports, prominent newspapers such as The LA Times, The Wall Street Journal, The NY Times and web sites such as MSN.com. In addition, we are the only drug coupon website to achieve 2 Wikipedia Trust links and a 100/100 Webutation rating.
What follows is the first in a series of blog posts that explain drug coupons, how they work and issues surrounding their use:
Today’s lesson is about the various flavors of drug coupons. There are several categories, as you will read below. These categories are not mutually exclusive. Most drug coupons fall into two or more categories as described below.
"Evergreenies" is a descriptive coupon term we coined in 2011. This is a relatively new species of drug coupon designed to stimulate brand loyalty for a well known drug, usually just before a generic is introduced.
Insurance companies are strongly opposed to this type of coupon because it thwarts generic conversion. Typically an evergreenie coupon will subsidize the brand name drug’s copay to theprice point of a generic.
The quintessential evergreenie was the Lipitor coupon that first appeared in late 2010, about one year before the Lipitor patent was set to expire. By using the card, the patient’s out of pocket cost would be brought down to $4, roughly the same of out of pocket cost of a generic cholesterol drug.
This coupon raised a lot of ill will toward drug industry, drug coupons and the pharmaceutical industry in general. Other examples of evergreenies are : Depakote coupons, Diovan coupons, Arthrotec coupons.
Evergreenies always require that (A) the patient register with the drug company and (B) each coupon has a unique id number, so they can not be photocopied. After sign up, patients often get a plastic wallet coupon card that resembles an insurance card, periodic refill reminders and or direct mail regarding the disease state the drug treats.
One Click Coupons
As the name implies, one click coupons don’t require registration. They are typically found in PDF form and available one click down from the home page, as is the case with the Chantix and Livalo manufacturer offers. Sometimes rebates are configured as one click coupons.
Most one click coupons have identical coupon codes and may be photocopied, although some one click coupons, such as the Lantus Solostar coupon each have unique identification codes and should not be photocopied.
Try Before You Buy Coupons
Try-before-you-buy drug coupons are similar to a voucher; they typically offer a no strings attached free supply of a drug for one week, two weeks or 30 days. These are one time offers. Once a patient uses a try-before-you buy offer she is disqualified from ever using the offer for the same product again for the life of the program.
These offers are designed to get patients to try a new drug, risk free. In most cases, try-before-you-buy offers are are part of a two-pronged campaign, and linked to a reusable copay offset coupon.
These coupons are typically high value offers because they offer an entire month's supply of medicine which can run several hundred dollars. Many try-before-you buy offers are not available online and can only be obtained hand-to-hand from a doctor. The Lyrica coupon and theDaliresp coupon are examples of a doctor only try-before-you-buy drug coupon.
Copay Offset, Out-Of-Pocket Offset
This is the most common species of drug coupon. This coupon can eliminate a patient’s copay altogether or reduce it to a specific price. These coupons usually have a maximum value ranging from $25 to $250. If the patient’s copay exceeds the maximum price the patient is responsible for the balance.
In all cases, the value of an offset coupon (or any pharma coupon) can not exceed the patients’s out of pocket costs. In other words, if you present a “save up to $100 coupon” but your out of pocket costs are $75, don’t expect change.
Offset coupons sometimes pay for a patient's entire out of pocket costs, however the patient is usually responsible for the first $5 to $25 out-of-pocket cost before the coupon kicks in. In other words, if you have an intrinsically low copay these coupons will not offer large savings. The higher the copay, the more valuable the coupon.
Certain offset coupons may only be used by patients with insurance. Other offset coupons may be used for patients with insurance or cash paying patients. Most offset coupons have a provision that they may be used as rebate coupons if the patient a has mail-order prescription service or if the pharmacy they use is unwilling or unable to process the coupon.
Certain drug coupon offers (such as Xgeva, Cutivate Lotion) are not available online and may only be obtained by making a request via telephone. In addition, if a drug company is having trouble with a medication website and consumers are unable to print the offers they can call the drug company and request a coupon by telephone. They will typically give you the coupon codes over the phone and follow up by sending you a physical coupon in the mail.
Rebates are the oldest form of drug coupon. They are simple to use but the patient typically waits 4 – 6 weeks or longer to get his money from the drug company.
Usually the patient must include the pharmacy insurance receipt (typically stapled to the prescription bag with the drug information flyer) along with the completed rebate form. Sometimes a patient is required to enclose the UPC code or box-top from the original container with the rebate form to reduce the chance of coupon fraud.
Reusable, One Time Use
These are not manufacturer coupons, rather they are buying group coupons. These cards may not be combined with insurance. They are only good for cash paying patients. Since you are paying cash they be combined with rebates. They work the same way the AAA card or the AARP card gets you a discount on motel rooms. They identify you as part of a group.
The savings with these cards range from 1% to as much as 75% off the normal retail price of a drug. Individual drugstores decide what products qualify for discounts with these cards. Not all drugs in a drugstore will qualify for a discount with these cards.
The higher the profit margin on a drug (such as with generic drugs) the beefier your discount will be. Unlike manufacturer coupons, these coupons are terrific for generic drugs.
InternetDrugCoupons.com promotes one of these cards, known as the InternetDrugCoupons buging group card. The way it works is that these cards drive a group of cash paying patients to the drugstores.