By: Patrick Totty
Rhode Island-based CVS/pharmacy, which operates more than 7,000 pharmacies and drug stores in the United States, has announced three diabetes-related initiatives:
New Loyalty Program
The company is launching ExtraCare Advantage for DiabetesTM, a loyalty program that offers savings and rewards for the purchase of over-the-counter diabetes-related products. People with diabetes and their caregivers can sign up for the program, which allows them to apply the discounts they earn toward the purchase of almost any product in CVS stores. Participants also receive a monthly e-newsletter with tips on saving money for diabetes drugs and managing the disease.
The program is an extension of the ExtraCare loyalty program that the company launched in 2000 and now has 64 million members. Rewards are paid quarterly to members in the form of “ExtraBucks,” which can be used like cash to buy in-store products.
People with diabetes who would like to sign up for the program should visit their local CVS pharmacy or register online at www.cvs.com/diabetes.
Free A1c Tests
The company is also offering free A1c blood glucose tests at select locations through June 12 or while supplies last. The tests, sponsored by Bayer Diabetes Care, are being offered on a walk-in basis at the MinuteClinic locations found in many CVS/pharmacy stores. (The tests are not being offered at MinuteClinics in Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, nor Pennsylvania.)
The A1c test has become a standard diagnostic tool for determining the existence of diabetes or pre-diabetes in test takers. Unlike blood glucose meter readings which can produce anomalous or sporadic results, the A1c tracks the amount of glucose in the blood over a 90-day period. This more extended reading allows doctors and healthcare providers to get much more accurate picture of a patient’s blood sugar profile.
CVS/pharmacy estimates that people with diabetes incur medical costs that are almost 2.5 times greater than those for people who don’t have the disease. One result, the company says, is that 29 percent of people with diabetes will go 12 or more months without filling a diabetes drug prescription due to the cost.
To help people with diabetes lower costs, the company advises the following:
- Look for generics. The company’s pharmacists are happy to discuss lower-cost FDA-approved alternatives that are as effective as brand-name medications.
- Look for “combination drugs” that offer two drugs in one tablet for a lower price than buying the two separately. One typical combination includes metformin and a sulfonylurea, the two drugs most often used to treat type 2 diabetes after it is diagnosed.
- Ask about programs that assist with the cost of drug purchases. Some drug companies offer discounts to qualified patients.
- Look into lower-cost store brands as alternatives to more expensive national brands. Although the packaging may be plainer, the quality is the same. Stores like CVS are able to offer lower-cost alternatives because they don’t have to support expensive national marketing campaigns.
- Purchase in bulk. Although buying 100 of something, say, alcohol swabs, costs more than buying 50, it still costs less than buying two sets of 50.
- If you use insulin, keep close track of how much you actually use and how much you may be having to throw away because it has gone past its expiration date. A good alternative to insulin vials is insulin pens
* * *