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CVS Caremark Study Finds Medication Adherence Leads to Lower Health Care Costs, Even After Accounting for Increased Prescription Drug Spending

Thu, 01/06/2011 - 4:34am
Bio-Medicine.Org

WOONSOCKET, R.I., Jan. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A new CVS Caremark study analyzing annual pharmacy and medical costs over a three-year period for patients with one or more of four chronic diseases concludes that patients who take medications as doctors direct may save the health care system as much as $7,800 per patient annually.  The study findings revealed robust reductions in emergency department visits and inpatient hospital days from medication adherence and by avoiding those costly events there were substantial savings in overall health care costs.  The study, "Medication Adherence Leads to Lower Health Care Use and Costs Despite Increased Drug Spending," was released today in the January issue of Health Affairs.

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Troyen A. Brennan, MD, MPH, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of CVS Caremark and a study author, said company researchers analyzed pharmacy and medical claims data of 135,000 patients with congestive heart failure, diabetes, hypertension and dyslipidemia to determine the direct effect of adherence on costs.

"There have been many studies through the years that suggest adherence can save on health care costs, but the issue has not been central to health care cost discussions because those studies did not establish a causal link. We took the research further and what we found is that although adherent patients spend more on medications – as much as $1,000 more annually – across the board they spend significantly less for their overall health care costs," Brennan said.

The annual per person savings for chronically ill patients who were adherent to medications compared to those who were not amounted to $7,823 for those with congestive heart failure, $3,756 for a diabetes patient, $3,908 for hypertension and $1,258 for dyslipidemia or high cholesterol.

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