A major pharmacy benefit manager has announced a program to provide discounted drugs to uninsured Americans.
Express Scripts has set up a sudsidiary, InsideRx, to manage the program, which will offer drugs with an average discount of a third.
Customers sign up then use a discount card or mobile app to buy from a list of about 40 products. Major chains like CVS and Walgreens are participating, along with pharmacies across the country.
The move has been greeted with some skepticism from critics who claim it will make little difference to a consumer's ability to afford the medicines but will expand Express Scripts business.
Jennifer Luddy, director of communications at Express Scripts, told American Pharmacy News that, first and foremost, the program saves money for people.
"People who use this program will pay less today than they did before for the same drug," Luddy said. "We think that’s an advance that everyone can benefit from. We want people to pay less and find it hard to understand how anyone could criticize that."
The key reason for creating InsideRx is "to help the 30 million Americans who are uninsured right now and need access to affordable medication," Luddy added. "We believe every patient matters and that this program will put life-saving medicine within the reach of patients who have no coverage."
She said Express Scripts is uniquely positioned in the center of the drug supply chain to deliver cash discounts for customers. The company said pharmacies will be charged a "small fee" for each transaction.
"We know these customers need help, and we knew that if we stepped up to make this happen, these other organizations would as well," Luddy said.