Springfield Illinois Bloggers | Main | Illinois State Capitol at Christmas 2005

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Lowering drug costs for seniors

An article in Consumers Union discusses how senior citizens can save up to thousands of dollars on drug costs: New Study Finds Seniors Can Save More than $5,000 with Medicare Drug Benefit by Switching to Alternative Medicines - Selecting medicines based on evidence, not advertising, saves seniors, taxpayers:

Seniors struggling with the new Medicare drug benefit could save thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs by first talking with their doctor about switching to alternative, effective low-cost medicines before signing up with a drug plan, according to a new analysis by Consumers Union.
[...]
"By providing unbiased information about which drugs are most effective and safe, we can counter the wasteful spending on drug advertising and give meaningful financial relief to consumers and taxpayers," [Gail] Shearer said.

Gail Shearer is the director of the Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs project.

One thing that occurred to me while reading this article (I haven't yet read the report), is the effect the Medicare Part D benefit will have on doctors' offices. What I'm thinking about is the pharmaceutical sales people who pitch doctors to prescribe their companies' drugs to patients. I'm still formulating my thoughts on this. But, I'm wondering what kind of incentives doctors get from drug companies for pushing particular drugs. And, will those incentives, if any, change or disappear when Part D goes into effect.

One question comes to mind: If a doctor is getting incentives from a drug company, will they be motivated to prescribe a different drug, even if it means saving the patient lots of money, if there are no incentives for doing so.

Posted by Marie at December 17, 2005 11:49 PM