Consumer watchdog skeptical of prescription drug card discounts
Everyone wants to save money, especially when it comes to prescription drug costs. But some new cards showing up in local mailboxes promising up to 75-percent discounts are raising lots of questions.
Here's what you need to know before you head to your neighborhood pharmacy. It's a bold claim on a little card now showing up in mailboxes across Indiana.
"You and your entire family can save up to 75 percent off costly prescriptions from virtually every pharmacy in America," says a voice recording at the 800-number associated with the claim.
The card promises unbelievable savings on 50,000 brand name and generic prescription medications, including top sellers like Hydrocodone, Viagra, Crestor and Abilify.
But is a 50- to 75-percent discount too good to be true?
"I would like to verify if these discounts are as high as the companies claim them to be," said Terry Tolliver, Deputy Director of Indiana's Consumer Protection Division with the Attorney General's Office.
Tolliver has seen unsolicited drug cards before and knows the red flags.
"If they are asking for access to your bank account, if they're asking for access to your credit card information. Can you get ahold of these people? If I were going to call would I be able to find somebody?" he warned.
The U.S. Prescription Drug Card does not ask for money and we were able to talk with someone by phone about the basics of the plan that acts as a coupon.
What's different is this plan comes packaged with an official-looking form. But the offer is not from the government. It is not insurance or part of the Affordable Healthcare Act, and it is not mailed to a named recipient. Instead it comes with a resident code number that its parent company, Script Relief, insists contains no personal information.
"This card is not tied to any of your personal information. Further more, receiving this card does not enroll you in any program," the recording says.
But if you get the mailing, there's a reason. The company is targeting individuals based on information gathered from a third-party marketing firm, new applications for insurance, and even referrals from family and friends.
"We will never sell or share your personal information with anyone," said the recording.
Tolliver warns consumers to do their homework.
If you have insurance, you may already be getting the best deal and can not combine those savings with the discount card.
If you don't have insurance, there's still no guarantee you'll get the highest discount. Some pharmacies offer their own programs that could save you more.
"How much of your personal information do you want going to a stranger? Do you want someone else to know what are you being treated for? What are the medications that you take?" asked Tolliver pointing out some of the questions you should weigh before using the discount.
In the end, consumer advocates say it's up to you to decide if what you save on a card like this is worth your peace of mind. The best advice is to talk to your pharmacist.
Script Relief makes its money from pharmaceutical companies each time the card is used.
The company says three million people have saved over $200 million on prescriptions.
If you have used the discount card, the Indiana Attorney General wants to hear from you.
To hear the entire recording, call 1-888-607-3001.