JOURNAL ARTICLE

Medicare-approved drug discount cards and renal transplant patients: how much can these cards reduce prescription costs?

Marie A Chisholm, Josh Marshall, Kimberly E Smith, Charlene J Garrett, Jeanie C Turner
Clinical Transplantation 2005, 19 (3): 357-63
15877798

BACKGROUND: Post-transplant prescription medications are expensive, often costing over 12,000 dollars annually. Many solid-organ transplant patients have Medicare coverage and patients enrolled in Medicare-approved drug discount card (MADDC) programs may be able to receive prescription medications at a reduced price. However, many transplant healthcare practitioners are unaware of the utility of MADDCs. The purpose of this study was to determine whether enrolling renal transplant patients (RTPs) into a MADDC produces significant savings in prescription costs.

METHODS: Two Medicare RTPs, with prescription medication profiles representative of an RTP within 3 months post-transplant and an RTP greater than 5 yr post-transplant, were randomly selected from the Medication Access Program's database. Cost benefit analyses were from the patients' perspective and were performed using the: (i) prescription cost from the Medicare website of MADDCs that listed the greatest and least prescription costs compared with the retail cash price of the same prescription without using the MADDCs; and (ii) MADDCs' annual enrollment fee. The potential cost difference of using MADDCs and not using MADDCs to purchase the prescription medications were calculated.

RESULTS: RTPs' monthly out-of-pocket cost for prescription medications ranged from 162 dollars to 340 dollars, and MADDCs offered discounts of 20-37% from retail prices; thus outweighing the MADDC enrollment cost.

CONCLUSION: MADDCs, when selected and used appropriately, can reduce prescription medication cost for RTPs. Card selection is of great importance as discount rates vary greatly among cards, and only under restricted circumstances is a patient allowed to switch to another card. It is imperative that practitioners are aware of these programs and utilize cost-effective prescribing practices.

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