Cigna, Merck Helps band together to stop diabetes

BLOOMFIELD, Conn. An insurance company and a patient assistance program have joined forces to improve medication adherence outcomes of Type 2 diabetes patients.

Cigna and drug maker Merck's Merck Helps program inked a two-part contract that provided discounts if Cigna customers with diabetes lowered their blood sugar levels, regardless of the medication they were taking, and also provided for additional discounts if people who were prescribed Merck's drugs Januvia and Janumet took their medications according to their physicians' instructions. Discounts will be shared in various ways with Cigna employer clients.

Medication adherence was 87% for people taking Januvia (sitagliptin) and Janumet (sitagliptin/metformin), Merck's oral anti-diabetes medications. The medications are used in conjunction with diet and exercise to improve blood sugar control in adults with Type 2 diabetes, a condition that has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, the companies said.

"Merck is pleased to partner with Cigna on this program," said Sethu Reddy, VP medical affairs at Merck. "As the number of people with diabetes continues to increase in the United States and globally, achieving blood sugar control and increasing adherence to diabetes treatment regimens are important goals for patients with Type 2 diabetes and their doctors."

Added Jeffrey Kang, Cigna's chief medical officer, "Because Cigna is able to coordinate data and resources within our company, we are better able to support the health needs of the whole person. By integrating medical and pharmacy programs, we can identify people who may need extra support early in the diagnosis and progression of their diabetes, which means customers can potentially stay healthier longer."

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