CVS study: Higher adherence rates equal lower costs

July 1, 2013

States would see medical costs savings ranging from $19 million to $2.1 billion each if medication adherence rates improved, according to a study released by CVS Caremark.

States would see medical costs savings ranging from $19 million to $2.1 billion each if medication adherence rates improved, according to a study released by CVS Caremark.

The study, 2013 State of the States: Adherence Report, examined medication adherence rates and the use of generic drugs to treat diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and depression.

It also compared the three distinct markets served by CVS Caremark’s pharmacy benefit management (PBM) program-business health plans, employer-sponsored plans, and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans (PDPs).

"This data offers policymakers and the health care industry a new look at adherence across geography, health condition, and prescription-insurance status, and demonstrates the need for increased adoption of interventions that can improve medication adherence in order to advance health outcomes for patients and lessen the cost burden for the healthcare system," said Troyen A. Brennan, MD, MPH, executive vice president and chief medical officer of CVS Caremark.

"We at CVS Caremark use this data to conduct research and develop programs that help patients, providers, and insurers improve adherence and lower costs across the board," he said.

The study found that patients with depression had the lowest adherence rates, while patients with hypertension were most likely to take medications properly. Medicare beneficiaries had higher medication adherence rates than patients in employer-sponsored plans or business health plans, according to the study.

Nationwide, medication non-adherence accounts for $290 billion in excess healthcare costs each year. Various studies have shown that pharmacist counseling can increase medication adherence rates and lower overall medical costs.

"CVS Caremark has industry-leading tools to improve medication adherence and generic utilization to drive down healthcare costs for companies and consumers," said Helena Foulkes, executive vice president and chief healthcare strategy and marketing officer. "[This] report provides insights that enable healthcare professionals and policymakers to understand state-specific nuances that can help improve adherence rates.” 

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