NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Drug Discount Cards

August 23, 2002

Drug discount cards are seen as a possible solution to the problem of rising drug prices. Using drug cards, seniors would band together and use their collective bargaining to push prices downward without the need for heavy-handed regulation or price controls. Politicians have been unsuccessful in implementing such a plan, while private firms have already begun offering drug cards.

One example is the Pfizer's Share Card. Under Pfizer's Share Card, a senior can get a 30-day supply of any Pfizer drug for $15, including the most commonly prescribed drugs. This results in considerable savings:

  • According to the Government Accounting Office (GAO), the average cost of a 30-day supply of 12 most commonly prescribed drugs is $69.54.
  • Using the Pfizer Share Card, seniors would save $54.54 or nearly 80 percent.

The Pfizer Card and other similar cards are free and available to lower-middle class people who cannot afford private insurance, but do not qualify for Medicaid. This targets people most vulnerable to rising drug prices.

Other companies are offering discount cards with considerable savings:

  • Eli Lilly Answers Cards offer 30-day prescriptions for $12, representing savings of up to 85 percent.
  • The Novartis Care Card offers discounts on 36 drugs at savings of 25 percent or more.
  • GlaxoSmithKline expects seniors to save 30 to 40 percent with their Orange Card.

According to U.S. Health and Human Service Secretary Tommy Thompson, discount cards are a "dynamic, effective, and very practical way for seniors to receive significant price reductions. The application process is easy, quick, and understandable to everyone."

Source: Jim Frogue. "Prescription Drug Discount Cards - Real Relief for Seniors?" ALEC Policy Forum, Volume 4, Number 1, Spring 2002, American Legislative Exchange Council.


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