TrialCard puts drug samples in R.Ph.s' hands

September 2, 2002

Trialcard for samples, vouchers, coupons.

 

CHAINS and BUSINESS

TrialCard puts drug samples in R.Ph.s' hands

Imagine this scenario: Pharmacists deliver pharmaceutical manufacturers' samples to patients, then counsel patients about these drugs—and make a profit at the same time.

TrialCard Inc., a Raleigh, N.C., firm that specializes in the delivery of pharmaceutical companies' coupons, vouchers, and samples via magnetic stripe cards, is hoping to turn this scenario into reality. The cards, which look like credit cards, sport the name of the pharmaceutical firm and the drug, as well as the amount of product available to the patient. Physicians give the cards to patients for redemption at their pharmacy.

According to David Cunningham, TrialCard's president/CEO, the cards are inactive when they are issued. They can be used on all pharmacy computer systems and are activated according to guidelines of the issuing company. For example, a patient's card may be activated upon verification of a patient's demographic information. After product is redeemed, the card becomes inactive again. Some drug companies' programs allow the card to be reactivated according to additional rules.

"Due to TrialCard's patented process, we are the only firm that can deliver an inactive card or coupon for pharmaceutical samples. When we deliver a card or coupon, it has no value until it's activated by a physician, who can swipe the card in his office on a machine provided by TrialCard, or by a patient who can activate the card by calling an 800 number. Once it is activated, the card takes on the value preprinted on the card, and the pharmacist can redeem the value for the product," said Cunningham.

In addition to being given cards by their physician, patients may receive cards in the mail from drug companies. Patients may also call an 800 number for a drug they see advertised in a magazine, on TV, or on the Internet and request a card.

"Some programs are good for more than one medication. Some offers are good for a company's whole line of products," said Cunningham. "Depending on the products, they are reimbursed at AWP minus 10%-12%, plus a product dispensing fee ranging from $2.75 to $3.75. Pharmacists generally earn about five dollars per transaction," he said.

Cunningham explained that some drug companies offer patients a 30-day supply of medication. "Upon redemption, the card becomes inactive. Then after three or four refills at the patient's expense, the card might be reactivated for another 30-day supply—some manufacturers will give free samples more than one time. The advantage for the drug companies is that their patients are staying compliant on their medicine," said Cunningham.

The TrialCard can also be transformed into a debit card. After a seven-day supply of medicine, the card may be inactive for 30 days. It can then be turned into a debit card, offering $10 off the patient's next Rx.

Cunningham said patients benefit from getting samples from pharmacists rather than their physicians. "When patients receive a sample at a pharmacy, they know the medication has been stored properly. The pharmacist is available to counsel and to talk about drug interactions. The pharmacist is able to do proper drug utilization review and ensure that the dosage instructions are properly documented for the patient according to pharmacy labeling law."

Sandra Levy

 



Sandra Levy. TrialCard puts drug samples in R.Ph.s' hands.

Drug Topics

2002;17:36.