States’ Rx Comparison Sites Lack Adequate Data, Report Finds
Web sites operated by states that help consumers compare the prices of medications at pharmacies often lack adequate information or provide outdated data, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Center for Studying Health System Change, the AP/Wall Street Journal reports (AP/Wall Street Journal, 2/14).
For the report, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the California HealthCare Foundation, HSC examined Web sites operated by 10 states:
- New Hampshire;
- New Jersey;
- New York; and
According to the report, the number of medications included on the Web sites ranged from 26 in Maryland to about 400 in Minnesota.
The report found that only the Web site operated by New York included prices submitted directly by pharmacies, rather than those taken from Medicaid claims, which only in some cases list the "usual and customary price" that pharmacies charge for a medication. For Web sites that took prices from Medicaid claims, any pharmacies that did not file claims for medications in the previous month would not have prices for those treatments.
In addition, some of the Web sites did not list prices for different dosages or alternate versions of medications, according to the report. The report found that the Web site operated by New Jersey was the only site that listed when the information was last updated.
The Web sites operated by New Jersey and Florida were the only sites that allowed users to view them in Spanish. The report recommended that the Web sites include prices from online pharmacies, require pharmacies to submit prices monthly and make other significant changes.
Ha Tu, a senior health researcher at HSC and lead author of the report, said, "If there's a lot of missing data for the most commonly prescribed drugs, then there's likely to be even more missing data for less commonly used drugs" (AP/Wall Street Journal, 2/14).
New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs spokesperson Jeff Lamm said a requirement that pharmacies submit prices monthly "really creates a burden on each individual pharmacy" (Johnson, AP/Tampa Tribune, 2/14).
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