Clinical Editorial: Affordability: Part of Our Job Description
Drug and Disease Updates
Feature Focus: Epocrates Retail Pharmacy Formularies
FDA MedWatch Safety Alerts
Clinical Question of the Month
NeedyMeds Discount Card
Join the Epocrates Honors® program
What's This Disease?

Particularly in this economic climate, many people are faced with taking desperate measures when necessary prescriptions are beyond their budget, from skipping or halving pills to not filling prescriptions at all.

How can you help your patient get the medicine they need?

As you read this issue, you will see that Epocrates offers features that make healthcare more affordable for your patients. In particular, we highlight our unique formulary feature that makes it easy to check co-pay tiers, formulary alternatives and generic substitutions, prior authorization criteria, quantity limits, and step-therapy guidelines.

Affordability:  Part of Our Job Description

Anne Meneghetti, MD
Director, Clinical Communications, Epocrates

When you chose a career in medicine, what did you envision your practice would be like? I saw myself puzzling over data to arrive at a diagnosis, or holding a patient's hand in reassurance. I imagined the satisfaction in hearing patients say, "Doc, I feel so much better." I did not envision wasting time haggling with a pharmacist by phone over co-pay levels and prior auth restrictions – nor did the pharmacist, in all likelihood.

During my training, I recall feeling awkward when patients wanted to discuss financial issues.  Surely, there must be someone better suited than me to deal with this? In current economic times, prescription affordability affects all of us in one way or another. Compared to a decade ago, clinicians seem to be spending more time helping patients find affordable prescription solutions. 

We surveyed several thousand physicians and found that many of them change their prescription decision based on Epocrates information. Drug interactions and potential adverse events were the most cited reasons, and formulary coverage followed close behind. Epocrates pricing information is among the top sections accessed within the application.

Searching for the best price requires examining health plan co-pays, mail order programs, retail pharmacy discounts, OTC options, and patient assistant programs. Here is where Epocrates helps: our formulary information compares health plan and retail pharmacy options and highlights affordable alternatives. Walmart, Target, HEB, Kmart, and Rite-Aid formularies are included, and Walgreens was just added. Like some health plans, many of these retail pharmacies offer programs to improve medication adherence.

We are working hard at Epocrates to support you in helping patients find affordable options. Please let us know which additional formularies are of particular interest to you by visiting our formulary request site

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Epocrates Retail Pharmacy Formularies

Customize your Epocrates clinical reference software by downloading formularies for the pharmacies frequented by your patients.

Target Pharmacy: Offers $4 generics and free flavor on medications. Prescription labels feature large print and accessible drug info; color-coded rings help identify medications.

Walmart Pharmacy: Offers a growing list of $4 generics. Specialty pharmacy services are available for individuals with certain chronic conditions.

Rite Aid Pharmacy: Offers discounts on both brand and generic drugs, flat rates for some oral contraceptives. Prescription reminders available via phone, email, text.

Kmart Pharmacy: $5 generics, Over 50 covered women wellness medications $25 or less and simvastatin for $15/90-day supply.

HEB Supermarket: Offers $5/30 day supply and $9.99/90 day supply for hundreds of generics. Rewards program includes free prenatal vitamins and other discounts.

Walgreens Pharmacy: NEW! Offers discounts on thousands of brand and generic drugs, including $12 for a 90-day supply for hundreds of generic drugs.

For more information, or to learn how to download these and other formularies to your device, please visit our Formularies site.

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Drug and Disease
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FDA Medwatch Safety Alerts

Prescription drugs: Avandia (rosiglitazone): Risk of Cardiovascular Events, Actos (pioglitazone): Potential Risk of Bladder Cancer, Tygacil (tigecycline), Valcyte (valganciclovir hydrochloride), Gadolinium-based Contrast Agents, Octagam (Immune Globulin IV) Market Withdrawal Selected Lots - Thromboembolic Risk, Epogen and Procrit (epoetin alfa): Recall - Particulate Matter in Vials

OTC products: Similac Powder Infant Formulas: Recall, Aromatase Inhibitors in Products Marketed as Dietary Supplements: Recall

Medical devices: BagEasy Manual Resuscitation Devices, Westmed, Hospira Symbiq One- and Two-Channel Infusers, AngioSculpt "EX" PTCA Scoring Balloon Catheter, Infant sleep positioners: Risk of Suffocation, Electric Dental and Oral Bone-cutting Handpieces: Burns

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Clinical Question of the month

Joshua L. Conrad, Pharm.D.
Managing Editor, Medical Information, Epocrates

Q: Kathy, a physician assistant, wrote, "I recently saw an item about your formulary service.  But, many of my patients aren't so fortunate to have prescription insurance.  Do you have any suggestions on how I can help them?"

A: At Epocrates, we understand that you can make the best medication choices for your patients, but if they can't afford to buy them, the prescription won't be filled. That's why Epocrates has partnered with retail pharmacies across the country to integrate their discount formularies and programs within our products. 

When you look up a drug, the monograph will include information about whether that drug is part of your patient’s preferred program. If not, you can select the formulary alternatives option to see a list of other drugs in the class and which ones are included. 

In addition, Epocrates also includes the NeedyMeds.com formulary, a nonprofit organization with the mission of helping people who cannot afford medicine or health care costs. Please read below for more information about NeedyMeds.


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NeedyMeds Discount Card

The NeedyMeds formulary is a popular download among clinicians using Epocrates. NeedyMeds, a national nonprofit, offers a free drug discount card that can be used by people at any income level, insured or not.

It saves up to 80% off the cost of some prescription drugs, as well as OTC drugs and supplies that are written as prescriptions. The identical card can be reprinted and used by an unlimited number of people. The NeedyMeds.org website has information on over 3,000 programs that help people who are unable to afford healthcare costs.  

Free NeedyMeds discount card printable (PDF)

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