Pricing Information: Rx Web sites are hit and miss

March 21, 2008

Patients are generally poorly served by the drug-price-comparison websites that promise to help them, according to a study released by the Center for Studying Health System Change.

Patients are generally poorly served by the drug-price-comparison Web sites that promise to help them, according to a study released by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC). The problem? All but one of the 10 states HSC studied use Medicaid pharmacy claims data, which often contain usual and customary price information. Those data are usually relevant only to the uninsured. Insured patients generally pay lower prices because a pharmacy benefit manager is negotiating on their behalf. Moreover, since the states don't require pharmacies to report pricing information, the number of drugs posted on each Web site varied widely, from as few as 26 in Maryland to 400 in Minnesota.