Survey: Cost continues to be biggest barrier to medication adherence

September 28, 2012

A new survey of retail pharmacists revealed that cost remains a key barrier to medication adherence, with approximately one-third of patients deciding not to fill a prescription at least once.

A new survey of retail pharmacists revealed that cost remains a key barrier to medication adherence, with approximately one-third of patients deciding not to fill a prescription at least once.

More than 2,400 CVS retail pharmacists responded to an online survey conducted by IntelliQHealth for CVS Caremark. The survey also underscored the need for pharmacist and physician collaboration to help patients take their medications as directed, according a press release.

"Our own pharmacists confirm what we are learning from our research into medication adherence – that the pharmacist can be one of the most influential voices in helping patient take their medications as directed," said Larry Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark. "Our pharmacists also believe that while they have an important role to play in helping patients stay adherent to their medications, they can achieve even better results through partnership and close collaboration with prescribing physicians."

When talking about the impact of cost on adherence, 91% of the retail pharmacists surveyed agreed that having cost efficient alternatives to more expensive therapies improves medication adherence. Almost 90% of pharmacists who responded to the survey agreed that their patients would welcome a generic substitution if offered.

"As cost continues to be a barrier to medication adherence, we need to find ways to help educate patients about their options," which include generic medications, said Troyen A. Brennan, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer of CVS Caremark.

Doctors should inquire if cost is an issue for filling prescriptions, according to the majority of pharmacists (88%) who responded to the survey. In addition, most pharmacists agreed that better communication between pharmacists and physicians could positively impact medication adherence. Almost half of the pharmacists surveyed believed that doctors were not aware of medication costs when writing prescriptions for patients.