"Our biggest motivation is to promote the concept of prescription generics first whenever possible," said Jeff Taylor, pharmacy director at Aetna. Changing prescribing behavior for drug therapy will help save patients money on their co-pays and allow physicians to give patients a lower-cost alternative.
Today, 19 health plans sponsor the Generic Delivery Network. "We believe that Aetna's addition to the network will generate interest from other health plans to participate in the program," said Robert Feeney, CEO of MedVantx. "Our ultimate goal is to help lower healthcare costs for the health plans and patients." A shift of 1 percent from the use of brand-name prescriptions to generics can save the industry more than $1 billion, according to Feeney.
MedVantx's Sample Center technology tracks inventory and medication expiration dates and automatically reorders samples as needed. The tracking system gathers utilization date by doctor, health plan and therapeutic class. "This information is placed in the patient's medical record and can be used as an enhanced patient safety mechanism. The data also enables health plans to track their members' utilization and the programs effectiveness," Feeney explained.
Aetna is set up to receive claims for its members directly from the ATM-style machines – no matter the location.
The yearlong pilot began in October. It will undergo a six-month evaluation following a three-month installation process.
The health plan is recruiting and educating its network physicians.
Depending upon the success of the pilot, Taylor said Aetna would encourage its physicians to talk with MedVantx to install the machines in their offices.
"We see a huge opportunity going forward," Feeney said. The current U.S. generic dispensing rate passed 50 percent in January, thanks to a push by health plans and the industry. Feeney said collaborative programs involving physicians have to be created to continue the push for generic drugs as first-line therapy. "MedVantx has proven in pilot programs across seven states and 100 medical groups that our program increased the use of generics greater than five share points, representing a $10.8 million dollar cost savings to participating health plans," said Feeney.