Trial prescriptions:
are they self-serving?

“First there is something called the “trial prescription patient monitoring fee,” within the suggested fee protocol. The fee is charged on top of the initial dispensing fee–whether or not the prescription is refilled–meant to reimburse the pharmacist for a patient follow-up call. The extra charge also covers documentation the pharmacist performs–whether the trial was successful or not.

[The National Pharmacy Coalition on Managed Care] maintains that the pharmacist should not be penalized for an unsuccessful trial. The [national guideline for trial prescription programs] also suggests that if a trial is successful and a three-month supply is prescribed, for example, it should be dispensed in 30-day increments, not all at once. More dispensing fees.

But guidelines like these seem self-serving. Granted, trials of expensive medications that are unsuccessful could save employers a lot of money, but a successful trial prescription ends up costing the employer even more in “patient monitoring fees.”

The bottom line is that there are two fees and the main beneficiary is the pharmacist. Whether or not the employer benefits is a gamble that sponsors must decide if they’re willing to take.”

From a column on trial prescriptions that ran in the February issue of Benefits Canada, a magazine about pension investment and employee benefits.