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Amid ongoing criticism of discount cards for prescription medicines, a new study finds these marketing tools increased costs for private insurers in Canada by 46% because patients were not motivated to pursue lower-cost generics.

The analysis examined 2.8 million prescriptions for 89 different drugs for which brand-name discount cards were available between September 2014 and September 2017. Of nearly 940,000 claims filed with private insurers, $69.4 million was paid out compared with roughly $47.7 million for a mix of equivalent generics, a difference of $21.7 million, or 46%. For each prescription, this amounted to an extra $23.09.

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