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Promoting Medication Adherence
About 117 million Americans currently live with a chronic health condition, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, and obesity.1
For nearly 90 percent of people with chronic and complex diseases, prescription medication is the first and logical choice for medical intervention. Unfortunately, up to 50 percent don’t take their medications, and as many as one third don’t have their prescriptions filled in the first place.
Unfortunately, between $100 and $300 billion of avoidable health care costs in the United States, as well as the loss of tens of thousands of lives, are attributed to medication non-adherence each year.2 That’s why CVS Health is employing a number of strategies to increase medication adherence and improve patient outcomes.
Cost is often a barrier to medication adherence.
Rising drug prices affect everyone, with double-digit price hikes for brand name drugs becoming more common. This not only can jeopardize access to medications, it puts financial strain on patients and taxpayers. In fact, brand price inflation was a key driver of total drug spending in 2016, which reached a record high of $450 billion.3 And in a recent survey of American voters, our poll found that 21 percent of respondents put off filling a prescription because of concerns about affordability.4
CVS Caremark, our pharmacy benefit management business (PBM), uses multiple strategies to help protect consumers from rising drug prices, including competition to negotiate discounts, promoting the appropriate use of lower-cost, clinically equivalent medicines and developing innovative approaches to lower patients’ out-of-pocket costs at the pharmacy. We also developed the capability for PBM clients to apply negotiated discounts at the point of sale, to reduce a member’s out-of-pocket cost for a prescription.
Pharmacists can influence patients to stay compliant with medications.
Pharmacists are among the most accessible health care providers, and thanks to their frequent interaction with patients, are in a unique position to assist. They can help coordinate care, spot red flags, and offer solutions such as prescription refill reminders and the ScriptSync medication synchronization program to encourage patients with chronic conditions to stay adherent to their medication and treatment plans.5 In fact, research has shown that patients with chronic conditions who receive support from pharmacists are more likely to reach their blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol goals.6
In addition to day-to-day interactions with patients, CVS Pharmacy’s Pharmacy Advisor program engages CVS Caremark plan members who are diagnosed with chronic conditions either face-to-face when they fill prescriptions at CVS Pharmacy or by phone for members who choose mail service pharmacy.
For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve pharmacy care, visit our Health Care Innovation & Delivery information center. And to stay informed about the most talked-about topics in health care, register for content alerts and our bi-weekly health care newsletter.
3 QuintilesIMS Institute. (2017). Medicines Use and Spending in the U.S. A Review of 2016 and Outlook to 2021. Retrieved