What Can Hepatitis B Drugs Tell Us About Generic Pricing Games?

  • Jan 27, 2022

    While the average price that pharmacies pay for a common hepatitis B treatment has seen a steep drop as more generics entered the market, the list price for the drug — which helps determine patient cost sharing — has stayed stubbornly high, according to new research published in JAMA. The study’s authors say their findings “highlight the need for policies that improve transparency around generic drug financing and pharmaceutical benefit manager practices,” but one industry expert points out that there are also private-sector solutions to the problem arising.

    “In my view, the high out of pocket costs for entecavir and other generics is something that, given Good­Rx and companies like it…patients can do something about themselves directly, bypassing their PBM and pharmacy benefits altogether,” says Elan Rubinstein, Pharm.D., principal of EB Rubinstein Associates. GoodRx, which went public in 2020, offers an app-based drug price comparison tool, aggregates drug coupons and contracts with several PBMs, which allows the firm to offer patients the cheapest price for a drug among its partners’ negotiated network rates.

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  • Leslie Small

    Leslie has been working in journalism since 2009 and reporting on the health care industry since 2014. She has covered the many ups and downs of the Affordable Care Act exchanges, the failed health insurer mega-mergers, and hundreds of other storylines spanning subjects such as Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage, employer-sponsored insurance, and prescription drug coverage. As the managing editor of Health Plan Weekly and Radar on Drug Benefits, she writes and edits for both publications while overseeing a small team of reporters who also focus on the managed care sector. Before joining AIS Health, she was a senior editor for the e-newsletter Fierce Health Payer, and she started her career as a copy editor at multiple local newspapers. She graduated with a dual degree in journalism and political science from Penn State University.

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