The Reality of Rebates
Express Scripts exists to lower the cost of medications. We work with drug manufacturers to do just that – whether through lower list prices or rebates
Rebates are just one tool to lower drug costs – in direct response to skyrocketing prices set by big pharmaceutical companies.
Express Scripts negotiates with drug companies to lower the cost of medications included on our clients’ formularies. As part of the negotiation process, pharmaceutical companies offer rebates for some brand-name medications. When a consumer fills a prescription for a medication that offers a rebate, the drug manufacturer pays the rebate, which is shared with our clients based on the terms of our contracts. Clients decide how they want to use the savings and may elect for a very small percentage of rebates to be retained by the PBM.
Drug makers, not rebates, raise prices
PBMs help get the lowest net cost for their clients and consumers. Claims that “higher rebates mean higher prices” have been repeatedly debunked and repeatedly disproven.
If the claim that “rebates increase drug costs” was true, the cost of non-rebated drugs would increase by very little each year.
But that’s not the case.
For example, prices of prescription drugs without rebates rose by double digits from 2017 to 2022.
How Rebates Work
Rebates help defray ever-rising drug costs for Express Scripts clients and consumers
Rebates are not secret or hidden payments. Our clients understand the rebates we secure and have the choice to determine how these cost savings are used. More specifically, clients receive detailed financial disclosures, which include rebate arrangements with pharmaceutical manufacturers, as well as administrative fees for services provided. Further, all Express Scripts clients have an annual right to audit our performance and adherence to contract terms using an independent third-party auditor.
Most Express Scripts clients elect to have nearly all of the rebate dollars passed to them. Without the ability to deliver rebates, health care costs would be much higher. Here’s a closer look at how clients choose to use rebate value.
Express Scripts offers multiple economic models, including fully transparent options to provide clear and predictable costs for prescription drug benefits. Our ClearCareRx offering is one such model for clients covering more than 10,000 lives.
Rebate pass through that Express Scripts receives
Clients pay exactly what Express Scripts pays pharmacies for a prescription
Simple fee to cover the administration of pharmacy benefits, PBM product services, reporting and analytics – 100% auditable
Clinical & Financial Performance Guarantees, including improvements in drug performance, adherence and overall patient outcomes