generic, discount, drug coverage, pharmacy cost


Background: Chronic conditions are expensive to treat because of the ongoing prescription cost burden. Generic drug discount programs (GDDPs) that offer generics at discounted price may prove beneficial to reduce pharmacy costs for the same.

Objective: The objective of this study was to assess the extent to which GDDPs provide drug coverage for five common chronic conditions.

Methods: A content analyses of preexisting information was conducted. Extent of coverage based on top 200 generic drugs prescribed during 2008 for the treatment of chronic conditions such as hypertension, mental disorders, arthritis, pulmonary/respiratory conditions, and diabetes were identified. Commonly prescribed medications for these diseases were identified using published peer reviewed clinical guidelines. List of drugs covered under a GDDP for stores, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, CVS, Kroger, HEB, Target, and Randalls were obtained and compared to assess drug coverage by retail dollar sales and sales volume. Descriptive statistics and frequency/percentage of coverage were reported using SAS 9.2.

Results: GDDPs covered the highest number of drugs for hypertension (21-27 across different GDDPs) and the least (3-5 across different GDDPs) for pulmonary/respiratory conditions. Arthritis (5-11), mental disorders (6-11) and diabetes (5-7) had similar coverage. When compared to the top 200 drugs by retail dollars spent during 2008, hypertension (68%-87%) and diabetes (63%-88%) had the highest coverage followed by respiratory conditions (30%-50%), arthritis (22%-48%), and mental disorders (21%-38%). Similar result was obtained when GDDP coverage was compared with the top 200 generic drugs by sales volume, where diabetes (63-88%) and hypertension (57%-74%) had the highest coverage and mental disorders remained the lowest (23%-37%).

Conclusion/Implications: Drug coverage in GDDPs varied by pharmacies across the five common chronic conditions evaluated which may limit accessibility of these programs for uninformed consumers. Drug coverage was higher for diabetes and hypertension compared to mental disorders, arthritis, and pulmonary/respiratory conditions. Innovative strategies such as a national GDDP formulary list or internet-based technological tools to help consumers identify comparative drug coverage may be useful to improve access to these medications.