Magazine article Drug Topics

Now It's Pfizer's Turn to Debut Its Discount Card Program

Magazine article Drug Topics

Now It's Pfizer's Turn to Debut Its Discount Card Program

Article excerpt



Although Pfizer's new pharmacy discount program, Share Card, has drawn praise from retail pharmacy associations, the groups remain concerned about the recent proliferation of prescription card programs from drug manufacturers.

The Share Card, offered under the banner of Pfizer for Living, will enable low-income Americans to buy a 30-day supply of any Pfizer prescription medicine they need for a flat fee of $15. According to Pfizer, to be eligible for the card, patients must be "65 years of age or older or otherwise a Medicare enrollee" and have individual "reported gross income below $18,000 or joint reported gross income below $24,000" and "have no other prescription coverage." There is no membership or enrollment fee.

The Share Card, which CVS, Eckerd, and Wal-Mart have agreed to accept, can be used at participating pharmacies starting March 1. The card enables patients to purchase all Pfizer drugs, as well as two copromoted drugs-UCB Pharma's antihistamine Zyrtec and Eisai Co.'s Aricept for dementia of mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. The arthritis drug Celebrex, comarketed with Pharmacia, is not currently covered. Patients are also being offered access to a phone help line, manned by live operators.

Commenting on Pfizer's new program, Bruce Roberts, R.Ph., executive vp., National Community Pharmacists Association, said, "We concur with Pfizer's desire to help the nation's seniors better afford their prescription medications.... However, independent community pharmacy continues to stand opposed to the manufacturer-specific card model. Manufacturer-sponsored cards continue to flood the market, creating a logistical nightmare for consumers and pharmacists alike. Seniors are often multiple-drug users, which means they must carry multiple cards and the pharmacist must take the time to match these cards to prescriptions, instead of using that time to focus on patient care. The result of this myriad of cards, all with different parameters and requirements, is likely to create confusion and disillusion among patients."

Craig Fuller, president/CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, echoed Roberts' sentiments about Pfizer's good intentions but is concerned about the growing number of these cards. "We applaud the direction Pfizer is moving in because it will provide seniors with a pharmacy benefit that will significantly reduce the cost of their prescription drugs. While we remain concerned with the operational issues posed by a proliferation of card programs, Pfizer has worked with community leaders in developing the Share Card and is committed to working with us throughout program implementation. …

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