NEW YORK (Reuters) – Express Scripts is offering discounted $25 and $75 prescription drug prices to the newly uninsured, a stop-gap measure aimed at Americans who lose their jobs and health insurance due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The U.S. pharmacy benefit manager owned by Cigna Corp said the offer included thousands of generic drugs, which would be priced at $25 and branded medications priced at $75.
Express said the offer, which is temporary, includes drugs for asthma, diabetes drug, glaucoma, heart disease, migraine, reproductive health, seizures and thyroid conditions. The discount level will vary because of the wide range in retail prices for generic and branded drugs in the United States.
Trulicity, a diabetes treatment from Eli Lilly and Co included in the scheme, is listed at $694 on the GoodRx pharmacy website, where Vyzulta, an eye drop made by Bausch Health Cos, costs around $220. Meanwhile, Airduo, an asthma inhaler made by Teva Pharmaceuticals, costs about $50.
The White House on Tuesday estimated the unemployment rate in April was 16% to 20%, representing more than 20 million jobs lost, as social distancing and shelter-in-place orders aimed at curbing the coronavirus shut all but essential services.
More than half of Americans have health insurance through their employers, while others buy individual health insurance plans, some of which include government income-based subsidies.
Some get Medicaid benefits for the poor or have healthcare paid for by the Medicare program for disabled people and those aged 65 or older, while others have no insurance at all.
Express said that more than 40 branded medications in its program would come from drugmakers including AstraZeneca PLC, Bayer AG, Eli Lilly and Co , Merck & Co, Pfizer Inc, Sanofi SA and UCB SA.
Discounts in the scheme, dubbed ParachuteRx, originate partly from manufacturers as well as pharmacies, Express said, adding that the drugs are available by mail and at most pharmacies including Walgreens Boots Alliance, CVS Health Corp and Rite Aid Corp.
(Reporting by Caroline Humer; Editing by Alexander Smith)