Availability and variation of publicly reported prescription drug prices

Jeffrey T. Kullgren, Joel E. Segel, Timothy A. Peterson, A. Mark Fendrick, Simone Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: To examine how often retail prices for prescription drugs are available on state public reporting websites, the variability of these reported prices, and zip code characteristics associated with greater price variation. STUDY DESIGN: Searches of state government-operated websites in Michigan, Missouri, New York, and Pennsylvania for retail prices for Advair Diskus (250/50 fluticasone propionate/salmeterol), Lyrica (pregabalin 50 mg), Nasonex (mometasone 50 mcg nasal spray), Spiriva (tiotropium 18 mcg cp-handihaler), Zetia (ezetimibe 10 mg), atorvastatin 20 mg, and metoprolol 50 mg. METHODS: Data were collected for a 25% random sample of 1330 zip codes. For zip codes with at least 1 pharmacy, we used χ2 tests to compare how often prices were reported. For zip codes with at least 2 reported prices, we used Kruskal-Wallis tests to compare the median difference between the highest and lowest prices and a generalized linear model to identify zip code characteristics associated with greater price variation. RESULTS: Price availability varied significantly (P <.001) across states and drugs, ranging from 52% for metoprolol in Michigan to 1% for atorvastatin in Michigan. Price variation also varied significantly (P <.001) across states and drugs, ranging from a median of $159 for atorvastatin in Pennsylvania to a median of $24 for Nasonex in Missouri. The mean price variation was $52 greater (P <.001) for densely populated zip codes and $60 greater (P <.001) for zip codes with mostly nonwhite residents. CONCLUSIONS: Publicly reported information on state prescription drug price websites is often deficient. When prices are reported, there can be significant variation in the prices of prescriptions, which could translate into substantial savings for consumers who pay out-of-pocket for prescription drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)444-448
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Managed Care
Volume23
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy

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    Kullgren, J. T., Segel, J. E., Peterson, T. A., Fendrick, A. M., & Singh, S. (2017). Availability and variation of publicly reported prescription drug prices. American Journal of Managed Care, 23(7), 444-448.