Patient Awareness of Local Drug Price Variation and the Factors That Influence Pharmacy Choice: A Cross-sectional Survey Study

December 2017 | Volume 16 | Issue 12 | Original Article | 1274 | Copyright © December 2017

Spencer D. Brodsky BS,a Olabola D. Awosika MD MS,b Misty G. Eleryan MD,a,b Monica Rengifo-Pardo MD,a,b Xiangyu Kuang MS,b Richard L. Amdur PhD,a,b and Alison Ehrlich MD MHSa,b

aGeorge Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC bThe George Washington Medical Faculty Associates, Washington, DC


Background: High out-of-pocket drug expenditures are increasingly common in dermatology. Patients may not be aware that prices vary among pharmacies and consequently may not shop for the lowest cost.

Objective: To determine what factors influence pharmacy choice and the effect of providing local prescription prices on pharmacy selection. We hypothesized that patients do not “shop around” due to lack of knowledge of price variation and would choose a pharmacy based on costs if educated on price disparity.

Methods: Between July and August 2016, we administered a cross-sectional anonymous survey to adults visiting four outpatient clinics at an academic tertiary care center in Washington, D.C. Participants answered questions before and after viewing a list of prescription drug prices from local pharmacies.

Results: 287 surveys were administered to a convenience sample of adults (age ≥ 18 and literate in English). Of the 287 participants, 218 fully completed the survey; 55.1% were women and 40.5% were over age 40. When considering a cost savings of $10-25, 65% would switch pharmacies if the distance were the same, and 21.3% would switch if the distance were 45-minutes further. After price education, fewer participants felt that drug price knowledge would ultimately influence pharmacy choice (P less than 0.0001). However, respondents’ intended frequency of researching price online, calling a pharmacy to ask about price, and comparing price between pharmacies before filling a prescription all increased, compared to prior self-reported frequencies (P less than 0.001). Specifically, participants with $75,000-$99,999 income were more likely to compare prices than those with income below $45,000 (odds ratio [OR], 4.62; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.24-17.28)

Conclusion: In this study, pharmacy choice was more influenced by convenience than cost prior to drug price education. However, price education ultimately impacted intent to research prescription drug prices before selecting a pharmacy. Thus, knowledge of drug pricing may be useful in creating cost savings for patients.

J Drugs Dermatol. 2017;16(12):1274-1280.