About the CVS E-Prescription Initiative

June 8, 2018 – The CVS E-Prescription Program is a Step in the Right Direction, Just Don't Expect it to “Bend the Cost Curve.”

A year ago, CVS Health announced a new e-prescription program to provide doctors and pharmacists with real-time medication cost information, including lower cost alternatives.

The CVS platform marries a clinical database and an “adjudication engine” to determine a patient’s out of pocket costs and prior-authorization status. Doctors and pharmacists whose electronic medical record (EHR) systems are connected with the CVS program will have an opportunity to change a prescription to a lower-cost alternative, with the patient sitting right there.

Sounds like a plan. But Scripta Co-Founder Mindy Bradley has got a few insights (and a few questions) regarding the program:


  • Anything that provides more cost information to doctors and patients is a step in the right direction, but the technology that underpins the CVS application is provided by the Surescripts, and Surescripts has been communicating this same information to doctors for years. They didn’t create the problem of skyrocketing prescription prices, but in all these years they haven’t yet solved it either.

  • The CVS/Surescripts program is focused on sticker-shock. The goal is to improve patient adherence. There’s nothing to indicate that the program might bring overall prescription healthcare costs down for self-funded employers. Scripta’s therapeutic alternatives address both health plan costs and the costs to patients.

  • The CVS e-prescription program doesn’t account for the coupons that pharmaceutical companies use to market their drugs. Coupons are Big Pharma’s way of negating key PBM plan design elements like step therapy and formulary tiers. Their coupon programs have actually served to drive the aggregate cost of medicines up, even as they shift the burden from the patient to plan sponsor.

  • CVS is principally a pharmacy, of course. It would be interesting to know how they developed their clinical database, since pharmacists think about medications differently than the doctors who prescribe them. Scripta’s Medication Mapping Database is sourced from a group of 60 doctors, including primary care doctors and specialists in every medical discipline.

  • Don’t forget that pricing varies from pharmacy to pharmacy—sometimes dramatically. Scripta ensures that patients know where to shop for the best price for a given medication, even if that is at Walmart or other CVS competitors.

  • Finally, there is value in any conversation between a doctor and his or her patient about medications, but whereas CVS provides access only to doctors and pharmacists with connected EHR systems, at Scripta, we have found that it’s best to arm both the doctor and the patient with cost and co-pay information.

Click here to read our response to CVS’s latest marketing for the program.


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Scripta™ is neither a pharmacy nor a doctor. The benefit service does not tell you what drug to take and does not participate in the drug selection process. Only your physician can determine the medications that are right for you. These alternative medications are options for less costly drugs that physicians may prescribe in place of the medications you are taking now. Scripta has reviewed your current medications only for the purpose of identifying potential cost savings for you to consider with your physician. Scripta has not analyzed the effectiveness or other therapeutic aspects of these medication alternatives. Accordingly, this report and any other forms of communication received from Scripta are not, nor should they be interpreted as, any form of treatment, drug regimen review, or provision of counseling or consultation by a prescriber, pharmacist or pharmacy. Do not stop taking your medication, change your medication, or start taking a new medication without being directed to do so by your physician and filling the prescription under the oversight of a licensed pharmacist. The alternatives set forth above may not be equivalent to your current medication, may interact adversely with your other medications, may not be indicated in light of your other conditions, may cause different or severe side effects, or may be less effective at treating your condition. Medication prices are approximate based on information provided by your pharmacy benefits manager, insurance plans, and/or employer, and may vary from pharmacy to pharmacy. Check with your insurance plan to obtain a full list of pharmacies where your prescriptions can be filled. All information herein is HIPAA protected, treated as highly confidential, and never shared with your employer.

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