In a real and symbolic move to address the high prices of drugs, Blink Health, the low-cost online drug and prescription service, says it is giving away a free year’s supply of the top three generic prescribed medications for type-2 diabetes patients who create a company account.
The New York City-based company announced today it has committed to $10 million in free medications in its #TreatType2 program, which it says represents savings to consumers of up to $80 million.
“Diabetes is a growing epidemic that affects 1 in 11 Americans, and Blink Health is committed to doing all it can to help patients manage this chronic illness,” said Geoffrey Chaiken, co-founder and CEO of Blink Health in a statement. “We have seen far too many people who are struggling to afford prescription medication, and we’ve launched this program to help address the problem one patient at a time.”
At least 29 million Americans have diabetes, with 90 percent having type 2; their healthcare costs are more than twice those who are not managing the chronic illness, according to Blink Health. The top three generic medications for type 2 diabetes that will be given away are metformin, glipizide, and pioglitazone, the company says.
Patients having a prescription for any or all of these three medications are eligible to receive the drugs for free, the company said. As a free prescription service, the medication can be picked up at over 57,000 pharmacies nationwide, including Walmart, CVS, Rite-Aid, Target, and most independent pharmacies and grocers, according to the company. The program also will cover these three medications for existing Blink Health patients who use them.
“Everyone enrolled in the program must have a prescription for the three covered medications,” said spokeswoman Renee Soto. “If they have a Blink account and a prescription, they can receive a free, one-year supply of one or more of the medications. We hope there is no confusion and we have customer service representatives standing by to answer questions.” Blink estimates that the giveaway will be able to “cover hundreds of thousands of patients,” Soto says. “We hope that as many as possible will sign up.”
Blink officials could not say precisely how much each patient could save on the prescriptions, with Soto noting that it will “depend on how much they are currently paying for the drugs out-of-pocket, what their dosage is.”
The company publishes the average price of all medications on its website, and if someone enters the names of the drugs, they can see how much the medication costs, compared to Blink charges. As an example, the average price for 30 tablets of pioglitazone 30 mg is $294.74. Blink offers that medication for $13.83. Under the program, the cost would be “zero,” Soto says.
Another diabetic medication, metformin, the average retail price is $20.74. Blink Health currently offers it for $5.28, a 74 percent discount. Again, that price would be zero, she says.
Blink Health, which was profiled in February’s Health Data Buzz, has been attracting new customers who have been buying medications about 50 percent lower than they usually spend, for drugs $10 or less, while drug costs overall have continued to climb.
Blink Health’s customers purchase their medications through Blink’s website or app, both free, and then take their prescriptions to any pharmacy in the country to be filled. At the pharmacies, the customers then show their “Blink Card,” which is proof of purchase and receive their medications. No payment is made to the pharmacy.
The company also announced it is offering a 40 percent discount on Eli Lilly insulin through what they describe as a first of its kind access program.
“There is no catch, no hidden fees,” the company says. “This is something we are doing to help people manage this illness and to raise awareness of the huge impact diabetes has on our healthcare system and the lives of so many millions of Americans.”
“If you know anyone living with diabetes, we hope you’ll help us spread the word about this new program.”
In April, Blink Health raised $90 million to drive innovations that accelerate its mission of making prescription medications affordable and transparently priced for everyone in the U.S.
— Joe Cantlupe