Cost of derm drugs varies greatly depending on location

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By Colby Evans, MD

The soaring cost of prescription drugs has generated outrage among physicians and patients. Some drugs—even generics—carry eye-popping costs, and health plans are increasingly asking people to shoulder a greater share of the cost.

Like many specialties, the AAD is concerned about the rising costs of treatment and the effect on patients. Over the past few months, the Academy’s Drug Pricing and Transparency Task Force conducted an informal survey of the prices of commonly used dermatologic drugs. We collected the lowest and highest available price for specific drugs from GoodRX.com over a four-month period.

What we found is important for your patients to know. The prices of these treatments varied based on where a patient filled the prescription. As dermatologists, we should encourage our patients to check different pharmacies’ prices before filling a drug. According to a January 2016 Consumer Reports article, drugs can cost as much as 10 times more at one retailer vs another.

Drug pricing table

Download a PDF of the drug pricing table.

The drug price comparison table is located in the Academy's new Drug Pricing and Access Resource Center. In addition to tracking drug pricing, this online resource helps keep members up-to-date on the Academy’s advocacy efforts related to this important issue. The section, which is updated frequently, contains a wealth of information on various topics, including:

  • Drug shortages: Links to monitor when a dermatologic drug is experiencing a shortage.
  • Cost and pricing information: An updated list of websites for determining drug costs.
  • Formulary search: A new app that can easily show providers and patients which drugs are covered by their specific plan.
  • Drug Pricing Toolkit for State Societies: This toolkit includes a sample letter for physicians to send to medical directors regarding the removal of drugs from formularies, example talking points on drug pricing, and information on how to write an op-ed on step therapy.

The Task Force encourages you to spread the word about the website and use it in your own practice. Drug pricing continues to be top priority for the Academy, and the task force will continue to work to find ways to help the membership. In the coming months, the task force plans to release a toolkit to help dermatologist offices better handle the burden of prior authorizations.

Dr. Evans is chair of the AAD Drug Pricing and Transparency Task Force and a member of the Patient Advocate Task Force.