We All Have a Role to Play in Safe Medication Disposal

We All Have a Role to Play in Safe Medication Disposal
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This article was authored by Tom Davis, R.Ph., vice president of professional services for CVS Health.

I know too well the dangers of prescription drug misuse and abuse for individuals and families. That’s one reason I am proud of the work we do every day at CVS Health to help combat opioid misuse as part of our purpose of helping people on their path to better health.

Too often medicines that were once needed go unused and are left in the home where they might be diverted and misused. In fact, medicine cabinets are a major source of diverted prescription opioids,https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30849719 which is why it is important for individuals to be aware of the safe medication disposal options available in their communities.

Supporting Medication Disposal Locally

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is a good reminder of the importance of disposing of unused and unwanted medications. In addition to select CVS Pharmacy locations serving as sites for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s take-back events across 27 states, CVS Pharmacy is helping to provide options where consumers can conveniently locate and access safe disposal locations year round.

Every day, consumers can dispose of unused or unwanted medicines at CVS Pharmacy stores and community locations across the country. We have installed safe medication disposal units to make disposal options more accessible in more than 1,000 CVS Pharmacy locations and have donated 950 additional units to community locations such as police departments.

Together, these units have collected more than 324 metric tons, or 715,000 pounds, of unused or unwanted medications that might otherwise have been diverted, misused or ended up in our water supply. That amounts to the approximate weight of a 747 jetliner. An additional 900 safe medication disposal units are planned to roll out in CVS Pharmacy stores in states across the country by the end of 2019.

Through our partnership with Google Maps, consumers can quickly search “drug drop off near me” in Google to locate permanent disposal locations in their community, such as a CVS Pharmacy or government buildings.

A Multifaceted Approach to Helping Combat Opioid Misuse

Our safe medication disposal program is just one part of our multi-pronged strategy to help prevent opioid misuse. As one of the 30,000 pharmacists at CVS Health, I am especially passionate about helping people understand the risks of prescription drug misuse. 

One example of how our pharmacists are doing just that is Pharmacists Teach. An innovative prevention education program, Pharmacists Teach connects our pharmacists to local schools to talk with students and parents about the dangers of misusing prescription drugs, using a curriculum developed with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. We have reached nearly 475,000 students and parents nationwide through the program.

In addition, our pharmacists also provide counseling to patients who are new to an opioid prescription. In line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guideline, this counseling educates patients on use, risks, storage and disposal at an important point in time, before they start on their medication.

Reducing the amount of unnecessary opioids prescribed can also help reduce the potential for misuse. To that end, CVS Health is implementing utilization strategies to help.  

  • In line with the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, we have implemented programs to help pharmacy benefit management clients reduce opioid utilization for Caremark members. To date, for clients adopting our utilization management criteria, the number of prescriptions covered for more than a 7-day supply decreased by 71.9 percent. Among those clients, the number of prescriptions covered for a 7-day supply or less is now 94.3 percent.

  • Aetna, a CVS Health business unit, is making progress in its five-year plan to help fight opioid misuse through prevention, intervention and patient support programming. In the first year of its strategy, Aetna has seen an approximately 60 percent increase in the rate of treatment with non-opioid interventions in members with chronic pain. The rate of opioid prescriptions written for seven or more days after an acute procedure decreased about 50 percent.

We’re making real progress in our efforts to help combat the misuse of prescription drugs, through our own programs and by collaborating in the community. And together, we’ll continue our work to help make a difference in building safer, healthier communities.

For more information about our efforts in the fight against opioid abuse, visit Our Commitment to Fight Opioid Abuse and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our bi-weekly health care newsletter.

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Addressing Rising Drug Prices

Addressing Rising Drug Prices
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Rising drug prices hurt patients and lead to negative and costly outcomes throughout our health care system. For example, data show that 40 percent of patients do not pick up their prescriptions when out-of-pocket costs per prescription exceed $200.CVS Health Internal Analysis. Completed December 2015, Retail RxDw; Analysis Timeframe of 1/1/15 – 12/28/15 When patients don’t take their medications as prescribed, the cost to our health care system is approximately $290 billion.https://www.nehi.net/writable/publication_files/file/pa_issue_brief_final.pdf

At CVS Health, we recognize that one of the most important things we can do is to help people afford and take their medications. That’s why we’re working to improve transparency and pioneering solutions to help patients get the right medicine at the lowest possible cost.

Providing Information across Multiple Points of Care

Information about how much a drug costs is not always readily available. According to a poll sponsored by CVS Health, more than half (57 percent) of patients do not know how much a drug will cost them, and nearly as many (54 percent) believe it would be helpful to have information about the cost before they fill their prescriptions.

CVS Health is working to expand visibility into drug cost information across multiple points of care.

  • At the physician’s office: Our real-time benefits technology – used by 100,000 prescribers nationwide – enables visibility into what a patient will pay for a specific drug under their benefits plan and presents up to five lower-cost, clinically appropriate alternatives for consideration by the prescriber.
  • At the pharmacy counter: Our more than 30,000 retail pharmacists use the Rx Savings Finder tool to search for potential savings opportunities.
  • For CVS Caremark members: About 230,000 times per month, CVS Caremark members search the Check Drug Cost tool to find lower-cost, clinically appropriate alternatives to more expensive medications.

Helping Control Costs While Promoting Better Health

As a Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM), we use every tool at our disposal to bring down drug prices. For example, we encourage the use of lower-cost, clinically appropriate generic alternatives, which data show can lead to a 3-percent decrease in overall mortality.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2522238. We offer evidence-based guidelines to help prescribers connect patients to the most cost-effective medicines, resulting in more than $2.9 billion in savings.CVS Health White Paper. Current and New Approaches to Making Drugs More Affordable. Published August 2018 We also provide point-of-sale rebates and zero-dollar copay drug list options to clients, helping to deliver savings directly to patients at the pharmacy counter.

Keeping Costs Down for Patients, Employers and Government Programs

Our PBM strategies rein in costs across the health care system and also increase access to affordable medications for patients. While brand manufacturers have increased prices on average 9.2 percent annually from 2008 to 2016,https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/abs/10.1377/hlthaff.2018.05147 we have worked to stabilize drug costs for our clients and patients. In fact, CVS Health kept drug price growth to just 0.2 percent in 2017.

For more information on how CVS Health is working to expand access to more affordable and effective health care, check out our Cost of Care information center and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our bi-weekly health care newsletter.

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CVS Health Research Institute Provides More Evidence that Broader Prescription Drug Coverage Improves Health Outcomes

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WOONSOCKET, R.I., Jan. 13, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --A new analysis by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and the CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) Research Institute, published on-line first in the American Journal of Public Health, shows that enhanced prescription drug insurance can improve patient health outcomes and reduce use of other, often costly, health care services.

"This review confirms the central role that effective prescription drug insurance can play as policymakers seek mechanisms to reduce rising health care costs in the United States," said Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health and a study author. "Our analysis indicates that while expanding insurance benefits may lead to initial cost increases, these costs should be offset by future reductions in spending associated with preventable patient morbidity and mortality."

The authors conducted a systematic review of 23 studies that investigated prescription drug insurance changes between 1990 and 2013 and reported on associated health care use and patient health outcomes. Patients with government-sponsored drug insurance were the primary population studied. Across the reviewed research studies, the authors observed a consistent link between drug insurance and improved patient health status. For example, when drug insurance programs were enhanced or expanded, more patients were able to afford important medications enabling them to access and adhere to prescription medicines for chronic conditions. This, in turn, decreased costly complications and overall health care use, including hospitalizations from unmanaged or under-managed conditions. Several studies also showed a negative impact on patient health outcomes when insurers placed burdensome caps on drug benefits.

"As we continue to work towards balancing cost and quality in the U.S. health care system, this analysis suggests that policymakers should consider strategies other than limiting drug insurance," said the study's lead author, Aaron S. Kesselheim, M.D. Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and faculty member in the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Brigham and Women's Hospital. "These could include strategies aimed at increasing the accessibility of essential prescription drugs, such as timely availability of generic alternatives and policies designed to improve medication adherence."

Many public and private insurers are taking steps to control rising health care costs. For example, some state Medicaid programs in recent years have enacted prescription drug restrictions by placing caps or limits on the number of prescriptions a patient can fill each month. The results of this systematic review of past studies suggests that restricting the availability of prescription drugs or prohibiting access could have collateral negative effects on patients' health and may not produce the expected cost-savings. They also suggest that economic calculations of Medicaid expansion have not taken into consideration the reduction in costs from the prevention of complications when millions of Americans previously without drug insurance are able to access important medicines to better manage chronic conditions.

The CVS Health Research Institute is focused on contributing to the body of scientific knowledge related to pharmacy and health care through research collaborations with external academic institutions, participation in federally-funded research, analysis and sharing of CVS Health data sources and coordination of pilot programs and initiatives. CVS Health Research Institute findings support a continuous quality improvement environment, which encourages product innovation and development to benefit CVS Health patients, clients and their members.

About CVS Health

CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) is a pharmacy innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Through our 7,800 retail pharmacies, more than 900 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with nearly 65 million plan members, and expanding specialty pharmacy services, we enable people, businesses and communities to manage health in more affordable, effective ways. This unique integrated model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at www.cvshealth.com.

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Erin Shields Britt
CVS Health
(401) 770-9237
erin.britt@cvscaremark.com

Christina Beckerman
CVS Health
(401) 770-8868
christina.beckerman@cvscaremark.com

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To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/cvs-health-research-institute-provides-more-evidence-that-broader-prescription-drug-coverage-improves-health-outcomes-300019299.html

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CVS Health Research Institute Publishes First Findings that Show Narrow Pharmacy Networks Can Help Improve Medication Adherence

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WOONSOCKET, R.I., (September 8, 2015) – A new CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) Research Institute study published today in JAMA Internal Medicine is the first to evaluate the impact of narrow pharmacy networks on medication adherence. The analysis showed that this approach, which incentivizes plan members to use specific in-network pharmacies, is associated with improved medication adherence. In addition, the researchers observed an even greater impact on adherence when there were 90-day prescription programs also in place. Narrow networks have previously been criticized for limiting access and adversely impacting medication adherence.

“There are few opportunities in health care when we can improve both quality of care and health outcomes while helping to manage health care costs,” said William H. Shrank, MD, MSHS, senior vice president and Chief Scientific Officer, CVS Health and a study author. “This first-of-its-kind study suggests that narrow networks may be one such opportunity by providing clear evidence that these networks – already an established cost management strategy – also help optimize members’ adherence.”

The researchers reviewed de-identified pharmacy claims data for more than 200,000 patients on chronic therapies to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and depression over a 12-month period. These patients received prescription drug coverage through CVS/caremark, the pharmacy benefit management (PBM) business of CVS Health. The study found that those patients in commercial drug plans with narrow pharmacy networks had improved medication adherence as indicated by their medication possession ratio (MPR), which measures patients’ available medication on hand over time and is commonly used as an indication of adherence. The researchers also found that if 90-day prescription programs, where patients receive a three-month supply of their chronic medication prescription during one pharmacy visit, were used in conjunction with a narrow network there was an even greater improvement in members’ adherence.

As a pharmacy innovation company, CVS Health is focused on improving health outcomes while lowering costs for CVS/caremark PBM clients and their members. In recent years, narrow and preferred pharmacy network strategies have become more prevalent as ways to help manage rising pharmacy costs and are a widely used feature of government-sponsored, Exchange and commercial health plans. However, their impact on patient health outcomes and quality of care had not previously been established. Concerns have also been raised that these networks may adversely affect medication adherence by reducing members’ geographic access to pharmacy care and choice. Many government-sponsored plans address this concern by requiring plan sponsors to have in-network retail pharmacies within close proximity of members’ residences. In addition, independent research shows that the majority of Medicare beneficiaries are satisfied with their preferred pharmacy network plan reporting that the in-network pharmacies are conveniently located.

“Despite common concerns that narrow pharmacy networks reduce access, we believe they can actually help encourage plan members to establish a pharmacy home where patients with chronic diseases can receive coordinated care and effective medication adherence support,” added Dr. Shrank. “This research suggests that narrow networks are one more way we can help encourage medication adherence and have an even greater impact as we help people on their path to better health.”

Research shows that half of people who have long-term prescriptions for chronic conditions do not take their medicines as prescribed, costing the U.S. nearly $300 billion and tens of thousands of lives each year. In addition to PBM plan designs that promote adherence and cost-savings, CVS Health is building a range of programs across the enterprise to meet the various challenges individual patients face when taking their medications. These include programs that synchronize prescription pick-up for patients with multiple medications, comprehensive medication reviews to help identify potential safety issues and adherence-improving interventions that can be delivered at the retail pharmacy, via digital tools and at the patient’s home.

The CVS Health Research Institute is focused on contributing to the body of scientific knowledge related to pharmacy and health care through research collaborations with external academic institutions, participation in federally-funded research, analysis and sharing of CVS Health data sources and coordination of pilot programs and initiatives. CVS Health Research Institute findings support a continuous quality improvement environment, which encourages product innovation and development to benefit CVS Health patients, clients and their members.

For more detail on the data, please visit the following link.

About CVS Health

CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) is a pharmacy innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Through its 7,800 retail drugstores, nearly 1,000 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with more than 70 million plan members, and expanding specialty pharmacy services, the Company enables people, businesses and communities to manage health in more affordable, effective ways. This unique integrated model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at www.cvshealth.com.

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CVS Health Research Institute Study Demonstrates Impact of Prescription Refill Programs on Medication Adherence

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Findings show that CVS/pharmacy® ReadyFill® program improves medication adherence while reducing drug waste

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — New research by the CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) Research Institute is the first to show the impact of prescription refill programs on medication adherence. The study, published in the American Journal of Managed Care, found that ReadyFill®, the refill program available at CVS/pharmacy®, improved adherence to medications for common chronic conditions without contributing to an oversupply of medication.

“Medication adherence is a complex public health challenge, and our ongoing research in this area has identified many reasons why people don’t always take their medications as prescribed by their doctor,” said William H. Shrank, MD, MSHS, senior vice president and Chief Scientific Officer, CVS Health. “At CVS Health, we are pleased to show that our prescription refill program is helping to address one challenge of medication adherence by making the prescription refill process easier and more convenient without contributing to drug oversupply, which is a common concern with these types of programs.”

The study found that patients who chose to enroll in the refill program offered by CVS/pharmacy had significantly greater medication adherence. In fact, those enrolled in the program receiving 30-day supplies of medication had a Medication Possession Ratio (MPR), a measurement for medication adherence, that was three points higher than the control group. For those patients receiving 90-day supplies of chronic medications, their MPR was 1.4 points higher than the control group. In addition, those enrolled in the refill program who received 30-day fills had 2.5 fewer days of oversupply than those in the control group, and those receiving 90-day fills had 2.18 fewer days of oversupply.

“We created the ReadyFill program to help encourage adherence by providing customers with easy access to an appropriate and adequate medication supply,” added Joshua M. Flum, executive vice president of Pharmacy Services, CVS Health. “At CVS Health, we are committed to helping more people start and stay on their prescriptions every day, and ReadyFill is just one of several adherence services that we offer to help improve health outcomes and reduce total health care costs.”

The study evaluated integrated data of more than 250,000 CVS/caremark members who filled 30- or 90-day prescriptions for at least one of 11 common chronic conditions at a CVS/pharmacy. The researchers compared MPR and average days of excess medication on hand at the time of refill for a sample of members who chose to enroll in the CVS/pharmacy refill program to a control sample that filled prescriptions using traditional methods.

CVS Health launched ReadyFill in 2009. The program coordinates refills for eligible maintenance prescriptions to save customers time and help them stay on track with their medications without contributing to prescription oversupply. Those who choose to enroll in the program receive reminder messages when their prescription is ready to be picked up. Concerns had previously been raised about the potential of these programs to produce drug waste by reducing a patient’s involvement in the dispensing process, which could result in unnecessary health care spending.

Medication adherence is a major public health issue that costs the health care system nearly $300 billion each year. Approximately 50 percent of American adults are prescribed a maintenance medication for a chronic disease such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Yet many patients do not adhere to their prescribed therapies. As a pharmacy innovation company, CVS Health is building a range of programs to meet the various challenges individual patients face when taking their medications. These include programs that help align prescription refills for patients with multiple maintenance medications, comprehensive medication reviews to help identify potential safety issues and adherence-improving interventions that can be delivered at the retail pharmacy, via digital tools and at the patient’s home.

The CVS Health Research Institute is focused on contributing to the body of scientific knowledge related to pharmacy and health care through research collaborations with external academic institutions, participation in federally funded research, analysis and sharing of CVS Health data sources and coordination of pilot programs and initiatives. CVS Health Research Institute findings support a continuous quality improvement environment, which encourages product innovation and development to benefit CVS Health patients, clients and their members.

For more detail on the data, please visit the following link: http://www.ajmc.com/journals/issue/2015/2015-vol21-n11/Community-Pharmacy-Automatic-Refill-Program-Improves-Adherence-to-Maintenance-Therapy-and-Reduces-Wasted-Medication

About CVS Health

CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) is a pharmacy innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Through its more than 7,900 retail drugstores, more than 1,000 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with more than 70 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year, and expanding specialty pharmacy services, the Company enables people, businesses and communities to manage health in more affordable, effective ways. This unique integrated model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at www.cvshealth.com.

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CVS Health Research Institute Study Shows 11.4 Percentage Point Improvement in Medication Adherence Among Patients in Specialty Connect™ Pilot

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High cost of specialty drugs makes adherence to therapy more important than ever

WOONSOCKET, R.I., (January 29, 2016) — New research published by the CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) Research Institute showed a significant improvement in adherence to specialty medications for patients enrolled in a pilot study evaluating Specialty Connect™, CVS Health’s innovative specialty prescription services program. New patients enrolled in the pilot were 17.5 percent more likely to pickup their first refill and existing specialty patients had an 11.4 percentage point improvement in adherence, as compared to a control group. The study was published in the most recent issue of the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association.

“The specialty market is growing rapidly and new high-cost specialty drugs, that were once limited to small patient populations, are now increasingly being indicated to treat many more patients,” said William Shrank, M.D., chief scientific officer and senior vice president, CVS Health. “As new specialty medications are introduced, adherence to therapy will be particularly important to optimize the benefit of these very expensive medications. Specialty Connect, combined with evidence-based benefit design and utilization management strategies, can increase the likelihood that the most appropriate patients receive specialty medications and that, once received, they take them as prescribed.”

CVS Health piloted the Specialty Connect program in 115 CVS Pharmacy stores before launching the program nationwide. Patients enrolled in the pilot could choose to have medications delivered to their home or doctor’s office or opt to pick up their specialty medications at their local CVS Pharmacy, while receiving specialized clinical support from CVS Specialty, the specialty pharmacy of CVS Health. Since the program’s launch, more than 100,000 patients have been served, with more than half choosing to pick up their specialty prescriptions at retail.

Specialty medicines treat complex conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and hepatitis C. Many of these medications require special handling, storage and administration. In addition, many specialty drugs are only available at select specialty pharmacies to help ensure compliance with required safety and compliance protocols. As a result, patients often have difficulty with the logistics of filling a new prescription for a specialty medication, with as many as one quarter of traditional retail pharmacies unable to fill a specialty prescription without barriers and/or delays. CVS Specialty is the only specialty pharmacy that offers patients a choice of where to get their medicines, either at any CVS Pharmacy location or through mail delivery, which simplifies getting started on a specialty therapy. In addition, the Specialty Care Team provides round-the-clock support and patient care, including symptom management, claims processing and help managing comorbid conditions.

“CVS Specialty is the only specialty pharmacy that integrates rare disease management and coordinated care programs to make it easier for patients to start and stay on complex treatments,” added Alan Lotvin, M.D., president, CVS Specialty and executive vice president, CVS Health. “Since we launched Specialty Connect across all CVS Pharmacy locations, we have seen high rates of adherence, and our specialty patients have reported extremely high satisfaction with their service.”

The CVS Health Research Institute is focused on contributing to the body of scientific knowledge related to pharmacy and health care through research collaborations with external academic institutions, participation in federally-funded research, analysis and sharing of CVS Health data sources and coordination of pilot programs and initiatives. CVS Health Research Institute findings support a continuous quality improvement environment, which encourages product innovation and development to benefit CVS Health patients, clients and their members.

About CVS Health

CVS Health is a pharmacy innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Through its more than 9,500 retail pharmacies, more than 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with more than 70 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year, and expanding specialty pharmacy services, the Company enables people, businesses and communities to manage health in more affordable, effective ways. This unique integrated model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at https://www.cvshealth.com.

Media Contacts

Christine Cramer
CVS Health
(401) 770-3317
christine.cramer@cvscaremark.com

Christina Beckerman
CVS Health
(401) 770-8868
christina.beckerman@cvscaremark.com

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CVS Health Research Institute Study Shows Value in Tailoring Medication Adherence Interventions to Specific Patient Populations

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WOONSOCKET, R.I., Aug. 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- A new study from the CVS Health Research Institute found that interventions to keep patients with common chronic conditions adherent is extraordinarily cost-effective. The study, published today in The American Journal of Managed Care, also found an even greater opportunity for cost-savings if medication adherence resources are focused on patients with three or more chronic co-morbidities, such as hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol. In fact, a preliminary analysis shows that payers could save approximately $38-$63 million per 100,000 members by focusing resources on these specific patient populations.

"There is extensive evidence supporting the relationship between better adherence, improved health outcomes and reduced health care costs, but efforts to improve medication adherence, while effective, can be costly," said Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of CVS Health. "We are now trying to better understand how to maximize health care resources to have the greatest impact on adherence and provide the maximum benefit for payers and patients. This research indicates that targeting adherence interventions to patients based upon their adherence history and co-morbidities would result in greater cost-savings and a better use of health care resources."

Researchers reviewed de-identified medical and pharmacy claims data of more than 1.2 million patients with at least one of three chronic diseases, including diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, over a two year period. The study found that the best strategy was to focus on the patients who are adherent and keep them adherent. For example, a patient with hypertension who was initially adherent, but became non-adherent, spent an additional $2,663 on medical care. In addition, the researchers found that the number of co-morbid conditions directly influenced the magnitude of cost savings when adherence behavior improved. In fact, patients with three or more chronic conditions had up to seven times greater savings than patients with one or two conditions.

"Short-term changes in adherence can have a meaningful and immediate impact on health care costs, and this kind of research is important in helping our clients understand the value of medication adherence and where the greatest cost-savings opportunities exist for their member populations when it comes to maintaining medication adherence," said Jonathan Roberts, President of CVS Caremark, the pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) of CVS Health. "We have a number of analytic tools that we use with our clients and offer adherence programs tailored for specific member populations to help improve health outcomes and deliver significant value for our clients."

At CVS Health, we leverage our analytic expertise across the enterprise to help PBM clients tailor and implement adherence interventions that have the greatest impact. For example, we use predictive analytics to help understand which patients are likely to be non-adherent and as a result, the most costly. In addition, we work with clients to target certain member populations who can most benefit from our adherence programs. In fact, we recently launched Care 1-on-1 , which connects members with multiple chronic conditions to a dedicated Pharmacy Care Team who is available 24/7 to support individual member needs, coordinate medication delivery and address their adherence challenges.

The CVS Health Research Institute is focused on contributing to the body of scientific knowledge related to pharmacy and health care through research collaborations with external academic institutions, participation in federally-funded research, analysis and sharing of CVS Health data sources and coordination of pilot programs and initiatives. CVS Health Research Institute findings support a continuous quality improvement environment, which encourages product innovation and development to benefit CVS Health patients, clients and their members.

About CVS Health

CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) is a pharmacy innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Through its more than 9,600 retail pharmacies, more than 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with nearly 80 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year, and expanding specialty pharmacy services, the Company enables people, businesses and communities to manage health in more affordable and effective ways. This unique integrated model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at https://www.cvshealth.com.

Media Contacts:

Christine Cramer
CVS Health
(401) 770-3317
christine.cramer@cvshealth.com

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SOURCE CVS Health

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CVS Caremark Research Identifies Optimal Elements of Effective Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) Plans

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WOONSOCKET, R.I.,, Feb. 13, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --New research conducted by CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS) and Brigham and Women's Hospital published online today in Health Affairs, identifies five key features of popular Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) plans that are associated with the greatest impact on medication adherence. The study, which will also appear in the journal's March issue, was funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Changes in Health Care Financing and Organization (HCFO) Initiative.

A variety of pharmacy benefit structures- including copayments, co-insurance and deductibles- help payors contain health care spending by encouraging patients to actively consider and bear the cost of prescription medications. VBID plans take a different approach by reducing the cost to the patient for medications that offer higher clinical benefit with the intent that increased medication use would improve health outcomes and reduce overall health care spending. For example, patients in a VBID plan who have a chronic disease such as high blood pressure may have their out-of-pocket costs (e.g., copay) significantly reduced or eliminated for essential medications to treat their condition.

"For the first time, this research offers high-quality, empirical data on the VBID plan features that appear most effective for stimulating greater medication adherence," said Niteesh Choudhry, MD, PhD, associate physician, Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Brigham and Women's Hospital and associate professor, Harvard Medical School and the lead author of the study. "The results show that several specific features can improve adherence from between two to five percentage points and this information can help influence how future copayment reduction plans are structured for optimal benefit."

The researchers evaluated 76 VBID plans provided by CVS Caremark to 33 unique plan sponsors and involving more than 274,000 patients. Based on the analysis, five key features were found to have a greater impact on adherence. These included:

  • More generous VBID plans (e.g., those plans that had no cost-sharing for generic drugs and low monthly copayments of< or =$10 or co-insurance rates of< or =$15 for brand-name medications),
  • Plans that targeted high-risk patients,
  • Plans that had concurrent wellness programs,
  • Plans that did not have concurrent disease management programs, and
  • Plans that made the benefit available only by mail order, offering 90 day prescriptions.

"VBID plans have been popular with employers and health plans as a way to use financial incentives and other methods to encourage medication adherence, improve health outcomes and reduce overall health care costs," said William H. Shrank, MD, MSHS, senior vice president and Chief Scientific Officer of CVS Caremark, and a study co-author. "In order to optimize the benefits of VBID plans, these findings encourage more generous coverage for generics, greater use of 90-day prescriptions, more careful intervention targeting and expansion of wellness programs, all of which are active initiatives at CVS Caremark."

CVS Caremark is focused on developing programs to help improve medication adherence. The study described here helps improve the industry's overall understanding of medication adherence and enables CVS Caremark to develop more targeted, measureable programs to address the underlying behaviors that contribute to nonadherence. CVS Caremark plans to use these research results along with other key information to identify, develop and pilot breakthrough interventions that will help improve medication adherence for the patients we support. The company is currently evaluating and piloting a number of interventions ranging from model development and prediction of adherence behaviors; to the use of medication reminder devices to help combat forgetfulness and improved labeling to address health literacy difficulties; to digital interventions that engage patients to encourage adherence.

CVS Caremark has been supporting a multi-year research collaboration with Brigham and Women's Hospital to better understand patient behavior, particularly around medication adherence. Annual excess health care costs due to medication non-adherence in the U.S. have been estimated to be as much as $290 billion.

About CVS Caremark
CVS Caremarkis dedicated to helping people on their path to better health as the largest integrated pharmacy company inthe United States. Through the company's more than 7,600 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 800 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 Caremarkcontinually 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 howCVS Caremarkis reinventing pharmacy for better health at info.cvscaremark.com.

Media Contact:
Christine Cramer
CVS Caremark
(401)770 3317
christine.cramer@cvscaremark.com

SOURCE CVS Caremark

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CVS Health Insights Report Tackles Complex Issue of Medication Adherence

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WOONSOCKET, R.I., Oct. 2, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- A new Insights Report published today by the CVS Health Research Institute entitled, "Adherence: why it's so hard and what we can do about it," reviews the Company's key research findings on medication adherence and lays out its goal to increase adherence by five to 15 percent through new interventions by 2017. For the past several years, the CVS Health Research Institute has been focused on building the body of scientific knowledge available related to medication adherence and, through various research collaborations, has published or presented more than 50 adherence-focused papers in peer-reviewed journals and at various clinical conferences. The Insights Report describes complex adherence challenges and actions that can make adherence easier while helping to lower overall costs.

CVS Caremark changes name to CVS Health

"The reasons why people don't take their medications for chronic conditions as prescribed by their health care provider are very personal and complex," said William Shrank, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer of CVS Health. "Over the past several years CVS Health has invested in research to help the industry better understand medication non-adherence. Our goal now is to apply this knowledge and develop new interventions that will enable us to improve adherence for the patients we support."

The new Insights publication focuses on four key areas of CVS Health medication adherence research to date, serving as a useful resource illustrating the impact of the issue of medication adherence on the health care system. In each section, the report summarizes relevant research and highlights programs and initiatives designed to address the identified issues. The four areas include:

  • Adherence starts when the Rx is written How to reduce primary non-adherence, those instances when the patient does not pick up their first fill for a prescription.
  • Pharmacist counseling and support can make a difference The report details the innovations implemented by CVS Health to enable effective counseling at its retail pharmacies.
  • The hard work of adherence takes place at home How best to support patients in their day-to-day medication regimens based on their individual needs and barriers.
  • The role pharmacy benefit plan designs play in supporting adherence Strategic plan design can help by reducing barriers such as cost, medication complexity and forgetfulness.

"We are actively piloting and testing a number of interventions to help make it easier for our patients to be more adherent," added Dr. Shrank. "For example, we know through our research that it is difficult for patients to be optimally adherent when they have numerous health care providers, take multiple medications with different dosing regimens, and make several trips a month to the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions. As a result we are actively engaged in a variety of pilots to test prescription synchronization programs and innovative medication labeling and packaging."

The CVS Health Research Institute is focused on contributing to the body of scientific knowledge related to pharmacy and health care through research collaborations with external academic institutions, participation in federally-funded research, analysis and sharing of CVS Health data sources and coordination of pilot programs and initiatives. CVS Health Research Institute findings support a continuous quality improvement environment, which encourages product innovation and development to benefit CVS Health patients, clients and their members.

To view the Insights report, please visit the following link: cvshealth.com/insights-adherence2014

About CVS Health

CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) is a pharmacy innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Through our 7,700 retail pharmacies, 900 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with nearly 65 million plan members, and expanding specialty pharmacy services, we enable people, businesses and communities to manage health in more affordable, effective ways. This unique integrated model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at www.cvshealth.com.

Media Contact:
Christine Cramer
CVS Health
(401)770 3317
christine.cramer@cvscaremark.com

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SOURCE CVS Health

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Pharmacist Interactions Can Improve Outcomes

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Dealing with a chronic condition like diabetes isn’t something most people do alone. They rely on the support of family and friends -- and of course their physician. A study published in Health Affairs highlights another important relationship: the one between the patient and their pharmacist.

Study Finds Integrated Pharmacy-Based Program Improved Diabetes Medication Initiation and Adherence Rates 

That relationship is highlighted in CVS Health’s Pharmacy Advisor program. Through Pharmacy Advisor, pharmacists use technology to identify which patients are at risk of not taking their medications as directed. These patients then receive a phone call, or in many cases, an in-person reminder from the pharmacist, who provides them with useful information on how they can better control their diabetes by being more aware and mindful of how and when they take their meds.

"This study showed that patients stay on their medications while they are actively counseled, but once those pharmacist-patient conversations ended, adherence fell quickly."

It turns out this kind of interaction has a major impact in the lives of those trying to manage the disease. Researchers at Harvard University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and CVS Health compared two groups of people who regularly filled prescriptions for diabetes. One group was counseled through the Pharmacy Advisor program and the other was not.

Patients in the group that received the counseling from their pharmacist, via the phone or face-to-face, were far more likely to check in with their prescribing doctors to make sure their treatment was on the right track. The group that was enrolled in the Pharmacy Advisor program was also collectively better at taking their medications as directed.

Providing individual attention to patients is not only good customer service, it is also saves money. The study, for example, estimated that a company that offered Pharmacy Advisor to its employees would save $3 for every $1 spent on this type of intervention.

The math gets even more compelling when you put the whole issue into greater context. For instance, the American Diabetes Association estimates the cost of the disease to the U.S. in 2007 at $174 billion. And the annual excess health care costs due to medication non-adherence in the U.S. have been estimated to be nearly $300 billion a year.

Pharmacy Advisor helps pharmacists identify which patients are at risk of not taking their medications as directed.
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