CVS Launches Tool Enabling Pharmacists to Help Patients Save Money on Drugs

CVS has announced the launch of CVS Pharmacy Rx Savings Finder, which will provide its 30,000 pharmacists the ability to find less expensive alternatives for their patients.

In an effort to help curb drug costs and provide more transparency, CVS is introducing a new tool to alert its pharmacists of cheaper drug options when they fill a patients’ prescriptions.

In a press release Wednesday, the company announced the launch of CVS Pharmacy Rx Savings Finder, which will provide its 30,000 pharmacists the ability to find less expensive alternatives for their patients. Pharmacists will be able to review a patient’s prescription regimen, medication history, and insurance plan information at the pharmacy counter.

Prescription drug prices remain a top concern for Americans. According to a recent national poll, commissioned by CVS Health, 83% of Americans voiced concern about the impact of rising prescription drug prices.

“Today’s consumers are faced with higher prescription drug prices than ever before, and many of them are now paying for a larger share of their prescription drug costs out of their own pockets at the pharmacy counter due to growth in high deductible health plans,” said Thomas Moriarty, chief policy and external affairs officer, CVS Health. “Until now, patients haven’t had the appropriate tools available to them to help manage these costs.”

The Savings Finder will work by sequentially alerting the pharmacist if:

  • The prescribed medication is on the patient’s formulary and is the lowest cost option
  • There are lower-cost options covered under the patient’s pharmacy benefit, such as a generic medication or therapeutic alternative with equivalent efficacy
  • The patient may be able to save money by filling a 90-day prescription rather than a 30-day prescription
  • There are other potential savings options for eligible or uninsured patients if neither a generic nor a lower-cost alternative is available

The company is hoping that the program will also help with medication adherence. Kevin Hourican, executive vice president of retail pharmacy for CVS Pharmacy, noted that patients who are faced with high out-of-pocket costs at the pharmacy are less likely to pick up their prescription and are thus less likely to be adherent to their treatment regimen.

The program will first be made available to members of CVS’ pharmacy benefit manager branch, Caremark, and is expected to be rolled out more broadly throughout the year, according to Hourican.

CVS has also recently introduced a real-time benefits program to allow providers and their Caremark members to see the member-specific cost for a drug at the time of prescribing, as well as up to 5 of the lowest-cost, clinically appropriate therapeutic alternatives based on the patient’s formulary. According to the release, early results show that prescribers accessing the real-time benefits information switched their patient’s treatment from a non-covered drug to a drug on the formulary 85% of the time. When the patient’s drug was covered, prescribers switched the patient to a lower-cost alternative 30% of the time.

The launching of CVS Pharmacy Rx Savings Finder comes as the company is in the process of purchasing Aetna, with the idea of remaking the consumer healthcare experience by integrating doctors, pharmacists, and other health professionals with health benefits.