CVS Caremark Survey: Pharmacists Say Cost is Biggest Barrier to Medication Adherence

Thursday, September 27, 2012

WOONSOCKET, R.I., Sept. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- In recognition of American Pharmacists Month in October, CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS) releases results from a new survey of CVS retail pharmacists which underscore that cost remains a key barrier to medication adherence and reinforce the important role of the pharmacist in helping people take their chronic medications as directed. While there are many reasons people stop taking their medications, the majority of pharmacists surveyed (62 percent) said that the high cost of drugs is currently the biggest cause of nonadherence for their patients. Despite this barrier, the vast majority of respondents (89 percent) said they believed counseling their patients is as important as filling their prescriptions and the majority agreed (88 percent) that those patients who pick up their medications and receive first-hand counseling from their pharmacist were more likely to be adherent.

"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 patients take their medications as directed," said Larry Merlo, President and Chief Executive Officer 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."

CVS Caremark's Pharmacy Advisor™ program enables the company's pharmacists to engage with PBM members who are diagnosed with chronic conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The pharmacists counsel their patients about the importance of being adherent to their medications and identify gaps in care that they educate the patient about and can bring to their physician's attention. A recent analysis showed that after one year in the Pharmacy Advisor program, certain members using CVS/pharmacy retail locations had a 17.2 percent decline in gaps in care.

When talking about the impact of cost on adherence, 91 percent of the CVS retail pharmacists who participated in the survey agreed that having cost efficient alternatives to more expensive therapies improves medication adherence. In addition, 89 percent of the pharmacists that participated in the survey agreed that their patients welcome being offered generic substitutions as a cost savings measure.

"As cost continues to be a barrier to medication adherence, we need to find ways to help educate patients about their options and let them know that generic medications are a safe, effective and cost conscious approach to managing chronic diseases," said Troyen A. Brennan, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer. "For example, our own published research shows that simply educating physicians and patients about the cost impact of requiring that a branded prescription be Dispensed as Written (DAW) instead of filled with an appropriate generic substitution, could save patients a much as $1.2 billion annually and reduce health system costs by as much as $7.7 billion each year.[i]"

The on-line survey was conducted by IntelliQHealth and respondents included more than 2,400 CVS pharmacists across the country.

About CVS Caremark
CVS Caremark is dedicated to helping people on their path to better health as the largest integrated pharmacy company in the United States. Through the company's more than 7,300 CVS/pharmacy stores; its leading pharmacy benefit manager serving more than 60 million plan members; and its retail health clinic system, the largest in the nation with more than 600 MinuteClinic locations, it is a market leader in mail order, retail and specialty pharmacy, retail clinics, and Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans. As a pharmacy innovation company with an unmatched breadth of capabilities, CVS Caremark continually strives to improve health and lower costs by developing new approaches such as its unique Pharmacy Advisor program that helps people with chronic diseases such as diabetes obtain and stay on their medications. Find more information about how CVS Caremark is reinventing pharmacy for better health at

[i] Shrank WH, Liberman JN, Fischer MA, Avorn J, Kilabuk E, Chang A, Kessleheim AS, Brennan TA, Choudhry NK. The consequences of requesting 'dispense as written." Am Jrnl Med. 2011 (124). 309-317.

Media Contact:
Christine Cramer
CVS Caremark
(401)770 3317