March 26 Merck and Co Inc and
GlaxoSmithKline Plc are not reimbursing drug co-payments
for patients who purchase their health insurance through state
and federal exchanges set up under the Obamacare program.
The two drugmakers said their decision, first reported by
Bloomberg News, is based on uncertainty about whether insurance
programs offered under the Affordable Care Act are governed by
federal laws that ban kickbacks to businesses.
To cap rising healthcare costs and give consumers more
incentive to reduce spending, insurers in recent years have
increased the out-of-pocket costs patients are expected to pay
for medications. At the same time, most drugmakers offer patient
assistance programs, or coupons, to people who might otherwise
not be able to afford medications that have been prescribed by
Merck, which makes drugs such as Januvia for diabetes, said
it plans to revisit its decision once more information is
available about implementation of the law governing the federal
Glaxo, maker of asthma medication Advair, said it is
"committed to helping patients access our medications."
Amgen Inc, which makes biotech drugs including
arthritis medication Enbrel, said it continues to offer
cost-sharing assistance to eligible patients.
"Under the new health insurance exchanges, it is not
uncommon for patients to face coinsurance of 40 percent or more
for their prescriptions," Amgen said in an emailed statement.
(Reporting by Deena Beasley; Editing by Leslie Adler)