Amazon Could Still Disrupt The Prescription Drug Market | Forbes

While list prices of drugs in the U.S. continue to grow at an annual clip of around 6%, real or net U.S. drug prices, including discounts and rebates, fell 5.6 percent in the first quarter of 2018. Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) appear to be successfully lowering net prices of drugs through higher rebates and co-payment accumulators. But, end-users continue to be feel the pain of higher cost-sharing, premiums, and deductibles.

Because PBMs do not disclose rebate information, consumers cannot effectively determine if their PBM is favoring drugs with the lowest net out-of-pocket cost. The PBM may in fact be favoring drugs with a higher list price due to the rebates or claw backs it is earning. And, because the increasingly prevalent form of patient cost-sharing is co-insurance, out-of-pocket costs to consumers are increasing.

Drug price and co-payment controls are not forthcoming in the U.S. In the absence of nationwide political action, however, it is likely that new sets of market forces will emerge to address drug pricing, transparency, and co-payments. The disruptors could peel back layers of obscure pricing practices to reveal actual prices among competing products to patients, while providing information on the comparative effectiveness of drugs.

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Amazon Could Still Disrupt The Prescription Drug Market.