Coupons and discount cards are now available for 395 prescription medications, according to a recent report by IMS Health. A 2009 study reported coupons for only 86 different drugs.
Prescription drug companies like AstraZeneca and Pfizer issue coupons that cover high, insurer-set co-pays, which aim to lead consumers to cheaper generics, reports the Washington Post.
A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that Lipitor had a co-pay of $30, but went down to $4 a month with a coupon. The generic alternative, Simvastatin, cost $10 a month. As for the insurer, Lipitor cost $137 a month, but Simvastatin costs only $18 a month.
Drug companies claim the coupons help Americans access their medications, but insurance providers worry that coupons simply lead consumers to buy more expensive brands. This means full-cost coverage for insurers and higher premiums for patients.