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How Big is the HCP’s Role in your Copay Program?

For years, one of the popular ways to distribute copay offers has been via sales reps to your targeted physicians. A copay program is a major selling point for the reps and it’s a fact that the combination of receiving both a script and a copay card is a powerful motivator encouraging patients to fill their script. These copay cards demonstrate that the brand is being supported and also give the rep the ability to alleviate physician’s concerns about their patients being able to afford their optimal therapy.

The web has now surpassed HCP’s as the place where most patients get their copay offer. This is partly due to “no see” HCP’s and patients now being aware they can easily search for a discount on the web. This has somewhat diluted the effectiveness of coupons given directly to HCP’s but this is still an important distribution channel.  

We have seen from past research that ninety percent of PCPs and 80% of psychiatrists encourage the use of coupons and why wouldn’t they? There is no doubt that having the HCP deliver your offer with the script for your brand is a great thing. The real issue is that not all of your HCP’s utilize coupons, and usage may vary even among physicians who practice in the same office. Why?

Well, that is the million-dollar question. There are probably a variety of reasons stemming from the steps in the “supply chain” of coupon distribution, storage and dissemination. A physician may not even be aware they have a coupon in the back room for your drug, or they may know they have one but can’t recall the actual offer. Many times, they leave the task of delivering your copay card to their office staff.

There was a study done recently where there were two groups of patients with the same out of pocket amount. One group was given a copay card and the other group was not. Even if the card can’t be used due to patient ineligibility, the patients with the unusable copay card were more likely to fill the script than the other patients with the same OOP copay amount. Call it reinforcement or whatever else you’d like… the net is that an HCP delivering your copay offer with the script is a very powerful reason for your patient to fill.

On the flip side, we have spoken to many companies that feel HCP’s know every brand’s copay offer and that this impacts their prescribing habits in a major way. From the surveys we have seen, most HCP’s say the copay offer has very little impact on the drugs they prescribe. Combine that with the fact that when asked to recall the copay offers the HCP’s had in their back rooms, almost no physician could recall any of offers. HCP’s are not the ones putting the offers in the back room and can rarely recall the offer after the rep leaves. The rep’s presentation should educate the HCP that the brand’s offer will reduce the OOP amount for their patients to an affordable level. As long as your offer can accomplish this, the face value on your card just needs to be “in the ballpark” with your competition.  

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