Magazine article Drug Topics

P&G Pushes OTCs for Seniors near Part D Gap

Magazine article Drug Topics

P&G Pushes OTCs for Seniors near Part D Gap

Article excerpt

What is Medicare Part D? What is the coverage gap? What's the best way to manage spending to delay or avoid reaching the coverage gap? What should seniors do if they are in the coverage gap? What medication options exist?

Seniors can get the answers to these and other related questions, thanks to a new education program called Manage Part D. The program was launched by Procter & Gamble-maker of Prilosec OTC-and the American Pharmacists Association to provide information about Part D, the coverage gap, and OTC medication options. Included in the program are brochures and a Web site at www. ManagePartD.com.

Timothy Covington, executive director of the Managed Care Institute at Samford University and a P&G spokesman, told Drug Topics that about four million people hit their coverage limit in 2006. "That number is going to increase in 2007 and beyond because we are going to have more recipients. This program teaches people how to manage Phase 1 of the drug benefit and stretch it so they don't arrive at the coverage gap before they have to."

Covington suggested that in addition to generic alternatives, consumers should consider OTCs to help lower their drug costs. "The OTCs don't count against the coverage gap," he explained.

Noting that about 50 million Americans suffer from frequent heartburn, Covington said, "Prilosec OTC is a low-cost alternative to a brand-name prescription version of a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). It doesn't eat up Phase 1 of the drug benefit. A brand-name PPI can cost over $100 a month. At $1,200 a year, that's half of the $2,400 that is the coverage limit of Phase 1 of Part D."

Covington went on to recommend that consumers use OTCs to manage their allergies. "About 34 million Americans suffer from allergic rhinitis. Antihistamines are the drug of choice to manage the symptoms. One of the last drugs that went from Rx to OTC status was Claritin, a nonsedating antihistamine. …

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