January 7, 2011

(Washington, DC) — Improved medication adherence produced up to $7,800 per patient in annual medical savings due to reductions in emergency department visits and inpatient hospital days for patients with one or more of four vascular conditions, according to a new study conducted by researchers at CVS Caremark and published in Health Affairs. The study found that reductions in overall medical costs far outweighed increased prescription drug spending when patients with chronic vascular disease took their medications as directed by their doctors.

The study, “Medication Adherence Leads to Lower Health Care Use and Costs Despite Increased Drug Spending,” analyzed pharmacy and medical claims data for 135,000 patients with congestive heart failure, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol to determine the direct effect of prescription adherence on costs. The researchers found that while adherent patients spend as much as $1,000 more annually on medications, they spend significantly less on their overall health costs.

“Adherence to prescribed medications saves lives and money. Pharmacy benefit managers improve adherence and lower costs for patients and payers,” said Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) President and CEO Mark Merritt.