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Medco Savings Tool Spotlights Consumer Reports’ “Best Buy” Drugs

This article was originally published in The Pink Sheet Daily

Executive Summary

PBM will feature link to Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs for certain medication classes.

Medco will offer Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs reports to members through a new "Savings Advisor" tool that will be featured on the PBM's website.

The Savings Advisor will allow patients to "review information comparing medicines on safety, effectiveness and price based on the scientific evidence, not drug industry marketing," according to Medco.

The PBM's website will feature an icon on the Savings Advisor page that links to the Best Buy Drugs report for the class of medication selected, Medco explained. The tool provides clinical information for each alternative and compares pharmacy and days' supply cost and annual cost, as well as the annual savings for lower-priced alternatives.

Medco clients include employers, BlueCross BlueShield plans, managed care organizations, insurance carriers, state and local government agencies, union-sponsored benefit plans and individuals enrolled in Medicare Part D.

Under the non-exclusive agreement, Consumer Reports publisher Consumers Union will retain "control not only over the editorial content of the Best Buy Drugs information, but its use," according to an Aug. 14 release. "In line with Consumers Union's strict non-commercial policy, there is no financial arrangement between the two companies."

Explaining the decision to partner with the PBM, Consumers Union President Jim Guest said the deal will allow the non-profit group to "reach millions of consumers with unbiased information about cost-effective prescription drugs at the point where it matters most - when consumers are making medication choices."

The agreement represents an expanded effort by Consumers Union to raise awareness of Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs, the group told "The Pink Sheet" DAILY. Consumers Union hopes to partner with other PBMs, insurers and employers down the line.

Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs reports are issued monthly, based on findings from the Drug Effectiveness Review Project, a 15-state initiative based at the Oregon Health Sciences University. The project evaluates the comparative effectiveness and safety of drugs in various therapeutic categories. Consumers Union has published 14 "best buy" reports since 2004.

In its August report, Consumers Union ranked Sanofi-Aventis' Ambien (zolpidem) as its "best buy" prescription sleep aid for newer sedatives over rivals including Ambien CR (zolpidem extended release), Sepracor's Lunesta (eszopicone), Takeda's Rozerem (ramelteon) and King's Sonata (zaleplon).

In March, the group concluded Eisai/Pfizer's Aricept (donepezil), Janssen/Shire's Razadyne (galantamine) and Forest's Namenda (memantine) were "Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs" (1 (Also see "Alzheimer’s Therapies “Best Buys” Named By Consumer Reports" - Pink Sheet, 2 Mar, 2006.)).

Upcoming reports will assess drugs for treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar depression, diabetes and urinary incontinence, according to the Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs website.

-Brooke McManus

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