Local dermatology office seeks solutions to rising prescription prices
September 3, 2017
Dermatologist Sandra Eivins has seen how the rising cost of prescription drugs has impacted her patients and understands how it can impact the business she has been building in Steamboat Springs since the Dermatology Center of Steamboat opened its doors in 1999.
"Dermatology has been hit very hard with escalating prescription prices in the last 10 years," Eivins said. "In the last 20 years, I have watched a $10 generic prescription in 1996 escalate to a $450 prescription, which is unaffordable to many patients. One of the common cancer creams I use is now $3,000 a tube. I am always looking for ways to have patients get affordable prescriptions …"
That goal is one of the reasons the local clinic has partnered with an FDA approved facility; it hopes to personalize the medications the clinic prescribes to make getting those prescriptions more convenient and affordable.
"A lot of dermatologists have reached out to a company like ours, where the medication is prepared in an FDA facility; it's customized, and it's generally less expensive than the patient's co-payments,” said Barret Malkin, of Prescribers Choice. "So, it liberates both the doctor and the patient from the broken insurance model, essentially, where they are able to get rid of that compliance epidemic."
Malkin said his company helps thousands of dermatologists across the country get their patients the medications they need and, in most cases, provides a more affordable path than the more traditional system. He said 30 to 50 percent of patient who go to a dermatologist are not able to get the prescriptions they need to treat conditions such as acne, dermatitis, eczema, rosacea and psoriasis.
"Yes, we have a complete dermatology portfolio with hundreds of different medications," Malkin said. "This particular clinic doesn't offer hundreds of them, but they do offer what is in the the doctor's repertoire, or, should we say, tool box. They have the medications they use most frequently on a day-to-day or weekly basis. They have a good variety and can satisfy most of their patients’ needs, wth the exception of a few outliers.
Recommended Stories For You
Malkin said prescription prices are a factor in most fields of medicine, but added higher prices are more noticeable in fields such as dermatology, because insurance companies often view such treatments as lifestyle choices rather than life-impacting necessities. Malkin said that assumption isn't always accurate.
"Especially, in dermatology, most drugs are not being covered these days, even HIV and cancer medications," he said. "It might be the only thing that Republicans and Democrats can agree on these days: Drug prices are too high."
Eivins understands this all too well, so she has tried many methods in an attempt to make treatment more affordable for her patients.
"We used mail-in pharmacies, drug cards, whatever it took to prescribe the appropriate medications," she said. “However, it was getting increasingly difficult. When I heard about this company, I immediately contacted them. They provide over 700 prescriptions for dermatology at prices that are less than most people’s copay. I have been pleased with the efficacy and the cosmetic formulations. Most are in hyaluronic acid vehicles, which is lovely for our high mountain climate."
Eivins said the response from patients has been encouraging.
"So far, the response has been excellent for patients. Medicare patients are especially thrilled to be able to get their prescriptions affordably. Although we can’t offer everything, many of the common dermatology prescriptions are available. The company is also formulating new compounds based on dermatologists’ input and needs."