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Tool Helps Pharmacists, Doctors Find Cheapest Drugs

CVS says new Rx Savings Finder may help lower customers’ out-of-pocket costs

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With the new CVS tool, when health care providers enter a prescription online they can immediately see if there are lower-cost alternatives that their patients' plans will cover.

CVS pharmacists will be able to tell customers whether the prescriptions they are filling are the least expensive options they have under their insurance plans, by using a new tool the company launched this week.

The CVS Pharmacy Rx Savings Finder will let CVS’ 30,000-plus pharmacists see at a glance whether drugs prescribed are on their customers' list of approved medications and whether there are lower-cost options that would work just as well. The tool can also determine whether the consumer could save money by filling the prescription for 90 days instead of 30.

“Our direct experience is that patients who are confronted with high out-of-pocket costs at the pharmacy counter are less likely to pick up their prescriptions and are less likely to be adherent to their prescribed therapy,” Kevin Hourican, executive vice president for retail pharmacy at CVS Pharmacy, said in a news release announcing the tool.

CVS is offering this new feature first for its CVS Caremark pharmacy benefit manager members. Hourican said he expects to make Rx Savings Finder available more broadly throughout 2018.

If the tool identifies a less expensive medication, the pharmacist will tell the customer and contact the doctor to get permission to dispense the cheaper drug. In addition, when doctors and other health care providers enter prescriptions online, they can immediately see what their patients will pay out of pocket for the drugs and see up to five lower-cost alternatives that the patients' plans will cover.

A 2017 AARP/University of Michigan poll found that most people between 50 and 80 years old don’t talk to their doctors about how to get the least expensive medicines. The poll also found that when patients did consult their providers about the price of a drug, they received a recommendation for a less expensive alternative.