A Healthesystems publication

Summer 2016

THE NEW WAVE OF CONVENIENCE PACKS: TOPICAL PACKS & KITS

FAST FOCUS: Healthesystems continues to keep watch for developing trends that contribute to pharmacy and overall claims costs. In this issue, we take a look at convenience packs and kits involving topical products, a new copack trend that dramatically increases the price of relatively inexpensive products.

A tube of Voltaren® Gel, a commonly prescribed topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), typically will cost a payer $60. Yet when it is packaged together with antibacterial wipes, its list price may be about nine times this cost, at $500.

Convenience packs, or “co-packs,” are not a new or original concept in workers’ compensation. A previous popular trend was the combination of a medical food with a generic prescription pain reliever in a convenience pack at a price that was substantially higher than the combined value of the individual components.

However, there has been a significant uptick in these combination packs or kits as they relate to topical analgesics. The packs typically contain two or three products that are readily available individually, either over-the-counter or by prescription. Common combinations are a cream or a lotion paired with an oral agent. In another example, the lotion is paired with antiseptic wipes. In many cases there is a significant and unwarranted cost mark-up on these kits without any real additional value for the patient. With new kits becoming available on the market on a near-weekly basis, this marks a troubling and growing potential driver for claims costs.

Identifying topical packs and kits can be challenging because they can show up in a claim in a variety of ways. They may be categorized based upon a single ingredient or product in the kit, such as a dermatologic, steroid or anti-inflammatory. In other instances, they could fall under a true private-label topical designation.

While packs and kits do not reflect a large percentage of prescription drug transactions, it is among a group of multiple cost drivers that are collectively contributing to overall increases in pharmacy claims costs. These drivers include topics previously reported on by Healthesystems, including private-label topical products, compounds, specialty drugs, and generic price increases.

As new trends emerge and existing ones continue to evolve, there is a need to continually develop new strategies for identifying and mitigating cost drivers in workers’ compensation. Healthesystems will continue to track and report on this growing trend.

RATE THIS ARTICLE

SOURCES

Table of Contents