Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Not-so-GoodRx Part II

On Saturday, April 22, 2017, I posted a link to an earlier blog post about prescription discount cards such as GoodRx on Twitter. On Sunday morning, April 23, the CEO (or someone claiming to be him) responded, much as you would expect someone to respond, protecting their multi-million dollar ruse:

Interestingly, the "CEO" doesn't dispute that they are collecting and using private patient information. Instead he suggests they're just not doing anything "bad" with the information they obtain. And then he tosses out a cheap shot on my name Crazy RxMan.

And of course, the CEO doesn't want a public discussion. Instead I'm referred to the company email. But are my claims baseless? Take a look at my next tweet, where I pointed out information DIRECTLY FROM the GoodRx website:

The GoodRx "CEO" then responded in a tweet that they obtain their income from "ads and referral fees," not really specifying what that means. And who knows... they may actually derive income from those sources. 

But what the typical pharmacy consumer doesn't know is that even though the pharmacy is the one collecting the co-pay, it's not the pharmacy that's making all the money in the pharmacy business. The drug manufacturers are doing well, of course, but in the past few years the top dogs are the Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs). They're the ones that run the show between the patient, pharmacy, and insurance. They get fees for everything and everyone in the process. And they're the ones really getting rich in this whole process. See this LINK.

What you also might not know is that pharmacies contract with Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) to get better reimbursement prices on claims submitted through the PBM. As part of this contract, PBMs require that pharmacies accept GoodRx and other discount cards. Now why would they do that? Because they've ALSO contracted with GoodRx to get a piece of the pie whether you use your insurance or the GoodRx card.

If GoodRx gets you a price less than you would pay in a cash situation, the PBM gets a slice of the pie, GoodRx gets their "referral" fee from the pharmacy, the pharmacy takes it in the shorts, and everyone is happy except the poor pharmacy team that does all the work and risks patient safety to save the patient a few bucks (See Not-so-GoodRx Part I).

"Referral" fees are bad enough, but that's not the end game. The CEO and his band know where the real money is, and that's what it's all about. No matter what they tell you about how your personal information is not required to use GoodRx, that is a LIE. Every pharmacy, everywhere submits ALL of the patient personal information EACH and EVERY time a claim is submitted to the GoodRx BIN. This data is captured and stored. I know it, you know it, and the CEO knows it... and that's why they have tediously and carefully crafted their policy statements on privacy. 

Here's what they tell you upfront right now:

GoodRx does not sell your personal medical data. In other words, GoodRx does not sell information regarding your drug prescriptions and medical conditions that is linked to your name, contact information and other personal data you provide us. (See LINK.)* 

*As of today. Who knows what they'll change it to tomorrow after they read this blog post?

"Great," you're thinking. They don't sell my information.

Ok, let me make this statement for you. Right now, as I'm typing this, Crazy RxMan is not standing up. However, I may stand up in the future, and will definitely have to stand up to go get a snack from the kitchen later. So this statement really has little meaning. It only talks about right now.

At the present time, GoodRx may not actually be selling personal private data... right now. They sure keep a lot of "data mining" engineers on staff for something they apparently have no intention of using or selling. Or rather they keep them on hand because that's phase two of the end game. Note that the policy statement does NOT say they won't sell it in the future.

Up until April 26, the "privacy policy" clearly stated:

"As we develop our business, we may buy or sell assets, and, depending upon the transaction, your personally identifiable information may be one of the transferred assetsIn the event that we are acquired by another company, your personal information may be part of the assets transferred to the acquiring party."

Isn't it coincidental that this statement no longer appears on their privacy policy... a few days after my interaction with the "CEO" on Twitter?

You gotta love attorneys. 

And of course, the CEO ignored my request:

Doug Hirsch, the founder and CEO of GoodRx, formerly worked at Facebook (along with another bigwig in the company) in their PRODUCT division. Facebook... a company openly known for capturing and using user data to sell products to the their users (See LINK). 

Imagine that... Facebook is free to use because they collect your data and use it to sell products to you by pushing ads into your Facebook timeline... and wouldn't you know it, GoodRx is free too, founded by someone who knows all about the Facebook model of doing business. Is that really just a coincidence?

A promoter of another discount card (or is it just GoodRx repackaged in another form?) on Twitter tried to make me seem obsessed and suggest that lying to the public is ok: 

Is that really how it is, now? Any company can tell you they will protect your private and personal information and then do something else and we're just supposed to live with it? Really? 


I'm calling you out, Doug Hirsch. I want YOU to admit the full scope of your Facebook-inspired business plan for GoodRx. Be transparent and tell the truth. Quit playing games with your GoodRx privacy policy wording and ADMIT once and for all that your plan is to eventually sell your goldmine database to the highest bidder. 

As I pointed out in yesterday's blog post, GoodRx burdens the average pharmacy and that compromises patient safety. As I've pointed out today, private personal data is something GoodRx obtains with every prescription submitted to them from pharmacies everywhere, every day. And despite their clever wording in their privacy policy, the fact that the CEO formerly worked for Facebook (a business that thrives on using personal information to push sales to the consumer) clearly indicates that GoodRx has big plans for private personal data. GoodRx is Not-So-Good.

As to you patients out there: Saving a few bucks is nice, but not at the expense of patient safety or your privacy. Be careful and cautious, my friend, or some clown will take advantage of you.


Anonymous said...

Dead on analysis! I have long suspected there was a larger end game for the "discount" cards. My own research into the "privacy" policy of these cards made me suspicious since day 1. Then to talk to my friends in the independent world and see bills come in from the PBM's for the "privilege" of using these cards makes it even more of a rip-off. #yougetwhatyoupayfor

Ms. Donna said...

There is no such thing as a free lunch.

jade said...

The privacy policy only stated they will not sell the medical information linked to your profile, nothing about all the other personal information you give... (nor the frequency with which you have it sent through)
And wow, bad grammar hurts, even in twitter messages.
Thank you for standing up (to go and get a sandwich for example).
Regards from Europe (where things are just as...)

Anonymous said...

Is your email anywhere on your BLOG? I have a lengthy comment and would rather not take up BLOG comment space to post it???

Thank you, Crazy.

Crazy RxMan said...

Contact form is toward the top

Anonymous said...

Crazy man maybe it's time for a face to face with this ceo scumbag please find his personal address for us my experience is it drives these fuckers crazy when u contact them outside in the real world they're comfortable commenting in the computer world where they can hide if u need funding let us no. Crazy u disected this guy and he quit can't figure out how a no body to him can enter his world and have alot of basis to what he is talking about my hat off to ya stick to this guy like glue don't let him go until justice and truth in what he is doing is served I think the FCC would have a field day reading what his policy really is verses his pitch of crap on tv. Gotta be something we can do confronting this guy in public let's them no theirs nothing secret about their life finds his kids schools wife's favorite yup coffee shop let's get into his life the same way he wants to get into ours for a profit. Usually it's time that gets scum like this off cause we're to busy to keep up and I don't want any comments about mentioning his family their crooks too and an extension of this guy's motivation to deceive all of us and profit from it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your thoughts. Did you create the numbers you used to in your diagram to help describe all the players who take a cut of the pie? I would like to find more information about the middle man transactions of PBMs. Any suggestions of where to look?

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

You better be careful your data is on google now as are the rights to your blog.

Anonymous said...

No one realize how deep this goes. You are onto something...

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the stand and actually providing the evidence that GoodRx is full of deceit! It makes NO SENSE that they get paid when they essentially provide NO services (dispense, fill, verify, supply, etc.).

buy prescription drugs online said...

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Anonymous said...

Even IF they don't sell your name, number, address, they can do a lot with your IP address. With your IP address, information can be sent to companies like El Toro who have taken the time to map our virtually every residential IP to a physical address.

Anonymous said...

Ooops, Mr Hirsch. Maybe he was just kidding about not selling information. https://www.consumerreports.org/health-privacy/goodrx-shares-users-health-data-with-google-facebook-others/

Anonymous said...

Pharm Tech Jobs needs to learn the difference between *your* and *you're*.

celeste [[♥]] said...

Who cares. If I save money on my overpriced medication, then so be it.