Have you ever seen "MythBusters?" It's a show that explores common, widely-held beliefs, presenting proof that what you think is true is actually not true at all.
This week – for the second time in a year! – a report has been released that shows that consumers can often lower their prescription drug costs by going to an independent pharmacy. The new report, "The Real Price of Medications," comes from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. The report was also covered on "CBS This Morning" and on the CBS website.
(Last year's story came from Consumer Reports and showed CR's latest secret shopper resulted in independents ranking near the top by price. This year's story once again ranked independents at the top for consumer preference.)
CBS News reached out to NCPA asking about this new report and I told them, "We really can't speculate why certain large chains are significantly more expensive, but community pharmacies answer to citizens on Main Street, not shareholders on Wall Street."
The reports aren't news to independent pharmacies but these reports may surprise some folks who automatically assume that big is better. They think the chains and the big-boxes must be able to offer a better price just because ... they're big ... and invest in TV, print, and social media commercials.
For many consumers, price is everything. And let's face it, price matters. That's one of the reasons these reports are cause for celebration. Most people expect independents to offer superior service. After all, it's often the independent pharmacist who is willing to take the time to help patients navigate lower prices using manufacturer coupons available for some brand prescriptions. Independents tend to rank highest in customer preference, according to Consumer Reports – "Personalized care like that seems to be what people value in a drugstore–and where independent pharmacies often seem to excel," according to the story, which gives examples of free same-day delivery, med sync services, and staffers who speak multiple languages reflecting the diversity of the local community.
Best of all, this busted myth reinforces what we've been saying. As you know, NCPA's WIG – Wildly Important Goal – is to change the pharmacy payment model. After you read the report and watch the video, you can get a renewed sense of just why that is so important. The current model is complex, cumbersome, costly, confusing, and most of all, covert.
For our patients – and our profession – we must continue to demand transparency in drug pricing. We need a simple system that is fair and understandable.
For consumers, the reports show they really can have it all in a pharmacy: price, service, and supporting their local community.
So, be proud. But whatever you do, don't be quiet! This is information you need to share – put this on your pharmacy website. Tweet it. Make sure it's prominently displayed on your Facebook page.
Perhaps my favorite moment in the CBS clip is seeing the shock and surprise of the co-anchors as they discuss the story. If they're surprised, others will be too. But here's the goal: Change that reaction from surprise to "Of course. That's what we thought all along."