Prescription Medication Costs
A Study of Physician Familiarity
Michael E. Ernst, PharmD;
Michael W. Kelly, PharmD;
James D. Hoehns, PharmD;
John M. Swegle, PharmD;
Lucinda M. Buys, PharmD;
Craig D. Logemann, PharmD;
Julie K. Ford, PharmD;
Holli A. Kautzman, PharmD;
Bernard A. Sorofman, PhD;
Richard W. Pretorius, MD
Arch Fam Med. 2000;9:1002-1007.
Background Studies in the past 25 years have suggested that physicians are not familiar with the costs of common prescription medications.
Objectives To determine physician familiarity with the cost of common prescription medications and to determine the value physicians place on knowing information regarding the cost of medications.
Setting Seven community-based family medicine residency teaching clinics in Iowa.
Participants Two hundred five practicing resident and faculty physicians.
Interventions From a series of $10 price intervals (range, $0.01-$80.00), physicians were asked to select the interval containing the cash price of the medication to an uninsured patient for 50 medications commonly prescribed in outpatient family medicine clinics. Physicians were also questioned about the value of medication cost information to their practice.
Main Outcome Measures The percentage of correct responses and the mean pricing scores were calculated for each respondent and for all medications.
Results One hundred seventy-eight physicians responded (86.8%). Only 22.9% of the responses correctly identified the cost of the medication. More than two thirds (68.3%) of the responses underestimated the correct price interval. Branded drugs were underestimated in 89.9% of responses, while generic drugs were overestimated in 90.2% of responses. Overall, 64.4% of physicians believed they did not receive sufficient information in their practices regarding prescription drug costs, and nearly all (93.6%) reported that regular information on prescription medication costs would help them prescribe more cost-effectively.
Conclusions Physicians are unfamiliar with the costs of medications they commonly prescribe, and they report that regular access to information on prescription medication costs would help them prescribe more cost-effectively.
From the Division of Clinical and Administrative Pharmacy, College of Pharmacy (Drs Ernst, Kelly, Hoehns, Swegle, Buys, Logemann, Ford, Kautzman, and Sorofman), and the Department of Family Medicine, College of Medicine (Dr Pretorius), The University of Iowa, Iowa City.
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