The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

The loyalty card “scam”

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 11:56 am on Monday, November 14, 2011

Lets say for a minute that you are a manufacturer.  You want to get your product into the stores but your reps have little success in having pharmacies pre-order it.  What to do?  Make a loyalty card and MAKE them order it at the request of their patient….

Yup,  folks, we all have a hate-hate relationship with the loyalty card.  Personally, I’d rather go back to the  sample days.  Let the doctors manage cabinets full of tiny boxes of pills, creams, ointments and etc.  However, like the $4 debacle,  this door has been opened and there is no going back.    I think its one of the most successful ” grab the pharmacy by its short hairs” invention in all of pharmacy history.

One of my commentors on my post about “reverse distribution” lamented the Nucynta that was left to outdate after he had to order it in for a coupon offer.  Sadly I have bottles of Opana and Kadian doing the same thing.  Sucks.  In response to some of these offers, I have declined to order these, instead deciding to help my fellow pharmacists by calling around to FIND the product already in stock and let the customer get it that way. Its a little nuts to have to purchase a bottle of 100 to use 7.  Or buy 30 Ryzolt to use 7, or buy 30 Cialis to use 3. One of the sneakier measures I saw out there was Clobex.  Dr wrote for a small bottle, but the loyalty card was only good for the LARGE bottle . This patient had a percentage copay and the coupon wasn’t a fixed amount.

While the one-time use cards are a pain, the monthly split bill cards are a complete pain in the arse.  My computer does not have a place to alert me that a particular rx is a split bill. I either have to make a note of it or just remember it…and  neither works very well.

Its also quite apparent that neither the doctor nor the patient tend to read the small print on these cards.  These cards that say ” pay no more than XX” for Proxaminaphyl!” dont make it very apparent that they are merely copay-assist cards,  they require that the patient’s insurance have covered most of the drug already.  When it comes to some of these obscenely expensive topical acne products ( who’s face is worth a $1ooo a month anyway?)  many insurance companies balk at covering them already.  I wish I had a number of how many times I have sent a prior-auth request to a dermatologist to have him blow me off by saying ” customer has loyalty card”  WELL DUH….CANT USE IT, READ THE SMALL PRINT.  Some may take $50 off a non covered item, but when you are talking about a $300 to $500 product, it  makes no difference to the patient.  All they see is ” Pay no more than $25″.

I’ve also turned a way a score of Medicare D recipients with $4 Lipitor cards.   ” Try simvastatin”. I tell them.

I have my own solution, of which nobody would ever put into practice….For every loyalty card promo, there has to be a package size available to utilize that promo.   If Big Pharma wants to offer a “free 7 tabs of Molaryl” then Molaryl needs to come in a 7 tablet promo size available for purchase.   Putting aside my made up drug names, lets put a face to this:   Ryzolt–make a 7 tab package size if you insist on only offering 7 free.  Cialis, step up and do the same:  market a 3 tab starter packet.

Of course, if I was king of the world, I’d have abolished all of the cards anyway.

Just my monday morning rant…


Comment by Sarah S.

November 14, 2011 @ 1:06 pm

Not to mention that most insurance companies will only cover 6 tabs max of cialis and viagra in a month. They should come in 3 packs!well we cant necessarily expect that a manufacturer will conform its product to what an insurer will cover but there is nothing wrong with expecting it to manufacture something in a size for its OWN PROMOTIONS.

Comment by Frantic Pharmacist

November 14, 2011 @ 4:01 pm

Hate ’em. The latest batch we got dumped on us was for “Gralise”. The drug reps always pull them out like they are pure gold — we usually dump them in a drawer somewhere and forget about them.I actually kept an entire box alphabetically filed full of all these crap cards that were dropped off by the reps. One day I came to work and it was gone. Tech extraordinare tossed the whole thing. I gave her a full High Five!

Comment by Liz

November 14, 2011 @ 4:48 pm

Explaining to people on medicare part d that they can’t use those cards is always the worst. Especially if some numnut let them use it before and I have to be the bad guy to say no. our computer knows which patient has a med-d plan and we cannot even attempt to split them. it refuses to transmit.

Comment by Dr. Grumpy

November 14, 2011 @ 5:07 pm

I refuse to hand them out. The bullshit pisses me off.and we thank you! LOL

Comment by Erin

November 14, 2011 @ 10:41 pm

I wish we could refuse to take them if they are presented after being processed, and often, after being rung up. Most of them say something along the lines of “present with your prescription” but customers seem to think they are just like grocery coupons that can be scanned instantly and easily at the register. Then there are those monthly discount cards which we are expected to remember– even though I tell each and every customer to please remind us when they request the refill. As if we don’t have enough OTHER things to do that are done on memory only, because pharmacy processig software is totally inadequate.Erin, you can refuse them if you want. there is no legislation that says you are required to accept these cards, however, unless you are the store owner and sign your own paychecks, the decision isn’ t yours ( or mine) to make. If your owner says take them, then you are stuck. I used to refuse to sell syringes by the bag. Alot of the stores did this and was a non-issue until one day some corporate directive came down from somewhere telling all pharmacies that syringes had to be offered by the bag. I found it sadly ironic when a couple of weeks later i was summoned to the bathroom to fish a needle from the toilet. I told them to deal with it themselves. I am not HAZmat.

Comment by JustADoc

November 15, 2011 @ 9:11 am

I have drug reps swear on a stack of bibles that the cards are easy to use. Every pharmacist I know thinks they were invented by Satan. I tend to side with those who actually are involved with their use.Satan definitely has my vote…I hate them!

Comment by JOE

November 15, 2011 @ 5:01 pm

I completely agree on requiring manufacturers to offer the package sizes their promotions are limiting to. Not any different than the samples they already hand out to doctors. This is something that all pharmacies, chain and independents can agree on and lobby for together since it will reduce everyone’s inventory costs and free up precious shelf space or even more precious narcotic safe space!!excellent

Comment by PharmGamerKid

November 15, 2011 @ 11:41 pm

The weirdest discount card yet. Forgot which medication it was for, but it’s one of those pay no more than $50 shit. So the prescription was like $100 (wasn’t covered by insurance as usual). We have to collect $50 from the patient, then swipe the discount card like a debit card with pin 0000. Yeah, we had to call the 1-800 on the discount card to get the instructions…agreed. the most complicated of all. AND you have to ring it up separately because the card is only funded for the specific amount and will not work if anything else is on the register. lots of extra work…

Comment by Tecnically Insane

November 18, 2011 @ 12:38 am

I hate the cards, they are never the same!! And the new debit cards for the eye drops are so lame, they have to be loaded on and you have to know the exact amount and the cashier has to do it with out screwing it up…arghhhh! And Doctors, bless them, always give them to the part-d seniors and then I have to explain why they cant use them…thanks for that, doc! And then they act like I am personally trying to gouge them. Yes, I concur….I miss samples!

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