Direct-to-consumer pricing of ED drugs highlights importance of normalizing discussion of condition

Opinion
Video

"We're calling upon urologists and primary care physicians to start the conversation and normalize discussion about erectile dysfunction with their patients before they fall through the cracks and ended up victims of these predatory online services," says Jack Vercnocke, MD.

In this video, Jack Vercnocke, MD, and Aron Liaw, MD, discuss the recent Journal of Urology paper “The High Price of Anonymity: Comparison of Cost of Direct-to-Consumer Mail Order Pharmacies Compared with an Online Wholesale Pharmacy.” Vercnocke is a urology research assistant at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan and Liaw is an assistant professor of urology at Wayne State University.

Transcription:

Is further research on this topic planned? If so, what will be the focus be?

Vercnocke: At this point in time, we don't have any plans for further research on this topic with our group, although we do believe that we have really only scratched the surface. We just picked 3 of the most popular companies to look at, but there are numerous other companies out there that we have not yet looked into. And so I think there's definitely room for a project that's a little more widespread, looking at even more of these companies and the options out there and what their pricing looks like.

Liaw: Furthermore, I also think that part of the issue is obviously no one would pay such a wide disparity in price if they knew, and I think there's a big failure of consumer information here. I think a lot of patients are being preyed on simply by not knowing or not having access. It's hard to know exactly where the fault [lies]. But it's probably a combination of predatory advertising and doctors not being as familiar with Cost Plus Drug Company. I think that can be looked at.

What is the take-home message for the practicing urologist?

Vercnocke: The take-home message is that men with erectile dysfunction are being financially taken advantage of by online direct-to-consumer pharmacies. These men are desperate for help. They don't feel like they have the ability or the comfort, whether that's real or perceived, to discuss erectile dysfunction with their physician. So we're calling upon urologists and primary care physicians to start the conversation and normalize discussion about erectile dysfunction with their patients before they fall through the cracks and ended up victims of these predatory online services.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Vercnocke: I would just like to add that our goal of this project was not to promote the Cost Plus Drug Company. We in no way have any affiliation [with it] other than using it as a tool in our own practices. We believe that it is the responsibility of the provider to be aware of services like Cost Plus Drug Company or GoodRx to name another one, that can help alleviate the financial burden that's associated with health care costs to our patients.

This transcript was edited for clarity.

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