- GoodRx partners with pharmacy chains and drug companies and pharmacy benefits managers such as Express Scripts and Caremark to offer real-time pricing at 70,000 locations nationwide.
- The company ranks No. 6 on the 2019 CNBC Disruptor 50 list.
- It says consumers can save up to 80% with its free GoodRx Pharmacy Discount Cards, as well as through coupons on its site.
- GoodRx claims that since it launched in 2011, it has helped Americans save $10 billion on prescriptions.
Back in 2010 Doug Hirsch, a techie who has worked at Facebook and Yahoo, had a frustrating experience trying to pick up a prescription. He went to a big chain pharmacy in Los Angeles and was told — to his dismay — that his prescription would cost $450. An experienced shopper, Hirsch decided to do a price comparison. So he went to another pharmacy, where he learned the same prescription would cost him $300. Then he went to a third, where the pharmacist tried to negotiate, asking if he had a copay card and offering to match the price at another pharmacy.
“For me this was eye-opening. I just figured it was a person in a white coat and they came up with the price. To learn there was a competitive market blew my mind,” he said.
When he got home from his pharmacy visits, he searched the drug name and price on Google only to come up empty-handed. Unlike shopping for plane tickets or shoes, drug prices can be almost impossible to find until you’re at the pharmacy trying to fill a prescription.
Hirsch’s experience led him and two other tech geeks to start GoodRx, a Santa Monica, California-based company that helps consumers find and compare prescription prices close to home or work through a free and easy-to-use app and website.
To get the information, GoodRx partners with pharmacy chains such as CVS, Target, Walgreens, Kroger and Walmart; pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) such as Express Scripts and Caremark; and pharmaceutical companies. Individuals can now get real-time prices at 70,000 locations nationwide.
The company, which ranks No. 6 on the 2019 CNBC Disruptor 50 list, says consumers can save up to 80% with its free GoodRx Pharmacy Discount Cards, as well as through coupons on its site. The company claims that it’s helped Americans save $10 billion on prescriptions since launching in 2011.
An industry cloaked in secrecy
As it turns out, Hirsch’s experience is pretty standard. Most Americans don’t know that prices can vary wildly from pharmacy to pharmacy.
“Most Americans are buying blind. They don’t know how much a drug is going to cost when they get a prescription … and they don’t know that they might be able to get it for less if they just pay cash or walk into another pharmacy,” said Robin Feldman, a law professor with a focus on intellectual property and antitrust at UC Hastings College of Law and author of “Drugs, Money, and Secret Handshakes.”
This is becoming an increasingly critical issue as drug prices in the U.S. spiral out of control. Even after rebates, Medicare spending for brand-name drugs rose 62% between 2011 and 2015, says Feldman. The prices of the 20 most commonly prescribed brand-name drugs for seniors have risen nearly 10 times more than the annual rate of inflation over the past five years, according to a congressional report released earlier this month.
Prices are continuing to rise. According to a quarterly report from GoodRx, the average list price of drugs — that’s the price set by the manufacturer — rose 2.9% in the first quarter ending March 31, 2019.
Rising drug prices have many patients and doctors very concerned. The consequences are alarming. And bad for everyone.
“Americans are struggling to pay for prescription drugs which have huge consequences for their health. Numerous studies have found people delayed treatment, split pills, or rationed medication because of the extreme costs that we experience in the United States. The high prices hit people in the pocketbook. They also affect their health,” said Adam Garber of U.S. PIRG, a public interest advocacy group that recently released a report on spiraling medication costs…