Effective discount tactics drive increased adherence and brand loyalty among patients and providers

Kelly Renfro

McKesson Patient Relationship Solutions

Even before some of the recent high profile patent expirations, the rate of generic drug use has continued to rise. In fact, recent reports show that the Generic Dispensing Rate (GDR) in the retail channel reached 65 percent in 20101. As the markets become more crowded with competitors, brands are constantly struggling with ways to reach patients to maintain brand loyalty.

Today, most brand teams would agree that co-pay discount offers are a good way to help offset out-of-pocket costs and help engage patients in branded programs. However, unavoidable challenges, such as managing the stock of cards, distributing cards to “white space” prescribers, and patient’s tendencies to forget to present their cards at the pharmacy, are still a challenge for brands. Leveraging a combination of co-pay savings offers, when implemented properly, can deliver powerful results in driving patient adherence.

Building brand loyalty and differentiation

A new brand used to treat chronic diabetes was launching in a very crowded class. The manufacturer engaged McKesson to implement a dual-pronged co-pay subsidy program designed to acquire new patients, drive patient adherence and create co-pay parity, while differentiating the brand from its competitors.


“As the markets become more crowded with competitors, brands are constantly struggling with ways to reach patients to maintain brand loyalty.”

Demonstrating a long-term commitment to patients

With the goal of demonstrating a long-term commitment from the manufacturer for an ongoing co-pay benefit solution, we recommended the implementation of a co-pay offset program with an aggressive benefit structure. By recommending an offer to patients of more than 12 benefits with a flat co-pay discount, this benefit structure demonstrated the brand’s long-term commitment to helping patients remain on their doctors prescribed therapy.

Additionally, to further ensure that out-of-pocket cost was not a barrier for cash or commercially-insured patients, an automated co-pay discount edit component was also included. When patients presented at participating pharmacies, they automatically received a discount off their co-pay, regardless of whether they possessed a co-pay discount card. With the combination of the two programs, the brand minimized the possibility of patients abandoning their prescription due to affordability.

Integrated co-pay program drives patient adherence

Initial evaluations demonstrated that the program effectively met its objective of acquiring new patients and driving adherence to their therapy. As a new product launch, it was natural for more than 86 percent of patients to be new to the brand, however, analysis also showed that 60 percent were newly diagnosed diabetic patients, meaning prescribers were choosing this brand over other established brands. Additionally, those new patients had a significant increase in length of therapy versus a control group that did not receive a discount. As a result of the program, 30 percent of the brand’s monthly TRx volume was positively influenced by the strategic integration of two innovative adherence technologies.


“With the combination of the two programs, the brand minimized the possibility of patients abandoning their Rx due to affordability.”


In summary, as brand managers create strategies to support their brand objectives, it is important to consider adherence technologies that maximize patient reach and retention while optimizing physician brand loyalty.


1. Prescription Drug Benefit Cost and Plan Design Online Report 2010 – 2011 edition

About the author:

Kelly Renfro is the Senior Marketing Manager for McKesson Patient Relationship Solutions, an industry leader in providing commercialization and adherence services for pharmaceutical manufacturers. She has over 20 years experience in pharmaceutical marketing and data analytics and is currently responsible for measuring the effectiveness of the company’s alternative sampling program, TrialScript®, and their market-leading patient adherence program, LoyaltyScript®.

Prior to joining McKesson, Kelly was a Product Director at NDCHealth (Wolters Kluwer Health) where she was responsible for developing new prescription informatic products for pharmaceutical manufacturers that optimized their sales and marketing efforts and allowed them to more effectively pursue market opportunities for their products.

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