Tuesday, October 14, 2003

What's the buzz?

Insurers send out Prilosec samples

Procter & Gamble Co. is taking Prilosec over the counter, but your insurance company still might be involved.

Several health-maintenance organizations are sending out free samples of Prilosec, the anti-heartburn drug that P&G rolled out Sept. 15.

It has called the launch one of its most successful ever, and hopes for first-year sales of up to $400 million.

Humana Health Plan of Ohio, which has 390,000 members in this region, sent coupons for a free 14-day supply of Prilosec to about 100,000 members nationwide who had been prescribed heartburn treatment already, spokesman Jeff Blunt said.

Other insurers, including Aetna Inc., sent out free samples, according to a Reuters report.

According to P&G's suggested retail price, Prilosec will cost $10.99 for a 14-day pack and $19.99 for a 28-day pack.

The freebies help HMOs because customers might choose the over-the-counter treatment instead of one prescribed by a doctor, Blunt said. And it helps P&G because it spreads Prilosec use.

"It's really just to introduce to our members that this is available," Blunt said.

- Cliff Peale

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