The first time I came across a pharma coupon I didn't quite know what to make of it. It wasn't coming from my insurer or my prescription drug plan. It advertised a substantial discount on a drug I had just started taking. It made taking that drug seem financially possible for me.

Ever since then, when my doctor prescribes a new medication, I always ask about free samples, trial offers, or coupons to help me pay for it. If the drug is new to the market, often there are helps available. If you’re trying to figure out how to lower your medication costs, this post will cover the basics of what you need to know.

Pharma coupons explained

Pharma coupons—short for "pharmaceutical coupons"—are coupons issued by drug manufacturers or distributors to help customers afford expensive prescription medications.

Typically, pharma coupons are issued for prescription-only brand name medications, but you may occasionally find pharma coupons for generic forms of prescription drugs or over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.

Common types of pharma coupons 

The more competitive a drug category becomes, the more likely drug manufacturers/distributors are to issue pharma coupons in an attempt to capture new customers. Here are some of the most common categories where you are likely to find pharma coupons.

  • Acne and skin care
  • Cholesterol management
  • Allergies
  • Migraines
  • Diabetes
  • Gout
  • Osteoporosis
  • Arthritis
  • Pain management
  • High blood pressure
  • Mood management (anxiety, depression)

Note: You can search "your health issue or your medication name + pharma coupons" to find out if there are any online coupons for your medication. 

What types of pharma coupons are available 

There are several types of pharma coupons available today. Some coupons are reusable (every time you buy, or for a certain number of purchases) while others are one-use only.

  • Free trial offers: With these offers, you can try a sample of the medication free so you can decide whether you want to take it.
  • Instant savings offers: With these offers, you can save a certain amount off the medication's retail value when you purchase it.
  • Rebates: With these offers, you can receive a certain amount back once you have purchased the medications.
  • Co-pay reduction offers: With these offers, you can pay a reduced drug co-pay when you purchase the medication.

Note: Be aware it’s illegal to purchase pharma coupons from eBay or other third party resellers!

How to get pharma coupons

These are the primary ways to obtain pharma coupons today.

  • From a prescribing physician: Often drug representatives will hand out coupons to physicians in hopes they will pass the coupons on to patients. If your physician prescribes a medication, just ask if s/he has any pharma coupons.
  • From a pharmacy benefits manager (PBM): A PBM can function as an independent unit within a larger insurance firm, or as an independent third-party prescription benefits administrator (if your insurer outsources your drug program, it’s probably a PBM that is handling this aspect of your benefits). You can ask your PBM for pharma coupons.
  • From the Internet: These coupons can be found on the drug manufacturer’s or distributor’s websites.
  • From the drug companies (usually by calling to ask for the coupons): When you call, the drug company may send you coupons by mail, give you coupon codes over the phone, or email you coupons.
  • From magazines and e-zines: Magazines often feature advertisements for new medications that include pharma coupons. You can clip or print these coupons.

Examples of pharma coupons 

The first time I saw a pharma coupon I wasn't sure what it was. If this describes you, here are a few examples that can help you know what you are looking for as you search online and elsewhere.

1. Januvia Type 2 Diabetes medication

Januvia's pharma coupons include a free trial offer and a printable prescription savings card.

2. QNASL nasal spray medication

QNASL offers a savings card you can present for discounts at the pharmacy—free registration is required.

 

3. COLCRYS gout medication

COLCRYS offers a free trial offer (7 tablets) and a co-pay assistance card.