Issue: June 15, 2002
June 15, 2002
1 min read

Patient education: choosing a drug outside the formulary

Explaining the reasons for prescribing a drug outside the formulary will help forestall patient dissatisfaction down the road.

Issue: June 15, 2002
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In this day of unprecedented release of new medications, ophthalmologists have a wider choices of medications — both on and off formularies — available to be prescribed to patients.

Ophthalmologists are faced not only with making choices on what medications to prescribe, but also with educating their patients about their reasons for making the decision.

It is not uncommon to prescribe a drug that is not in a patient’s formulary, which will result in a pharmacist coding the drug so that the patient will have to pay a higher copay. Higher patient out-of-pocket expenses can result in unhappy patients. To thwart this, a little education will go a long way.

“You need to explain to patients before they go to the pharmacist that you are prescribing a better drug, and as a result they might have to pay a higher copay,” said Candace S. Simerson, president and chief operating officer of Minnesota Eye Consultants in Minneapolis.

According to Ms. Simerson, taking this step will reduce the number of unhappy patients who may come back to the ophthalmologist’s office complaining about a high copay.

“Often if they understand why the drug is better and how it will affect their outcome, they’ll accept the higher cost,” Ms. Simerson said.

For Your Information:
  • Candace S. Simerson is president and chief operating officer of Minnesota Eye Consultants. She can be reached at Park Avenue Medical Building, Suite 106, 710 E. 24th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55404; (612) 813-3619; fax: (612) 813-3663; e-mail: