Drug prices Research has found that share of branded drug spending with a coupon increased from 26% to 54% between 2007 and 2010. (Photo: Shutterstock)

A new study has found that drug copayment coupons, while lowering the initial cost to individuals, contribute to higher drug prices overall in the U.S. In one specific category—drugs that treat multiple sclerosis (MS)—the study found that coupons raise negotiated prices by 8% and result in just under $1 billion in increased U.S. pharmaceutical spending annually. The study also estimated that copayment coupons increase spending on couponed drugs without bioequivalent generics by up to 30%.

The report from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) said that while drug coupons defray consumers’ out-of-pocket costs at the point of purchase, they increase overall prices by driving consumers to more expensive branded drugs and create other mixed incentives that result in higher prices in the long run.

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