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WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark is expanding its Pharmacy Advisor program to now include chronic cardiovascular care, a pharmacy-based approach to managing one of the most prevalent and expensive chronic illnesses.
The program, which combines pharmacy benefit manager insights and solutions with pharmacist interventions, ensures that patients follow their medication regimens to achieve optimal health outcomes. Pharmacy Advisor for chronic cardiovascular care initially will focus on improving medication adherence for four conditions: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure. High blood pressure alone affects 1-out-of-3 adults and costs the healthcare system approximately $76 billion a year, according to the company.
Last January, CVS Caremark launched Pharmacy Advisor for diabetes, which has facilitated more than 1.7 million member interventions. More than 700 clients representing approximately 12.5 million members will be enrolled in the diabetes program by the end of the year.
"As a pharmacy innovation company, it is our responsibility to continue to find new and effective ways to help people on their path to better health," stated Helena Foulkes, EVP, chief healthcare strategy and marketing officer for CVS Caremark. "The introduction of the Pharmacy Advisor program for chronic cardiovascular conditions allows us to take a new approach to an old challenge. This is another example of how we combine our research and pharmacy care expertise with our unparalleled access to consumers to make a difference for PBM clients and their members."
The launch of Pharmacy Advisor for chronic cardiovascular conditions follows recent research conducted by CVS Caremark, Harvard University and Brigham and Women's Hospital that quantified for the first time how much can be saved per patient by improving medication adherence for common chronic diseases. The research, published this past January in the journal Health Affairs, found that patients with hypertension who took their medications as prescribed saved nearly $4,000 per year, patients with high cholesterol saved up to $1,200 per year and CHF patients saved nearly $8,000 annually.
Through Pharmacy Advisor, CVS Caremark engages PBM members who are diagnosed with chronic conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to their expressed preferences at points when they are most receptive to messages about their prescribed therapy: face-to-face when members choose to fill prescriptions at CVS/pharmacy or by phone when members choose home delivery. The use of these integrated tactics drives behavior change in the short term and over time and leads to better clinical outcomes, the company stated. In addition to improving medication adherence, thus saving money and improving the quality of treatment, the program closes gaps in care and directs members with chronic conditions to existing disease management programs where they can obtain additional support.
The approach to Pharmacy Advisor is informed by CVS Caremark-sponsored research that has shown that counseling with a healthcare professional is highly effective when it comes to improving medication adherence for patients with heart disease. In fact, pharmacists at retail drug stores were found to be the most influential voice in encouraging patients to take their medication as prescribed.
"The Pharmacy Advisor program improves clinical care because we are able to identify and address pharmacy-related care issues that if left unattended could result in disease progression and increased healthcare costs," added Troyen A. Brennan, EVP and chief medical officer of CVS Caremark. "We are also better able to engage the member in their care through multiple contact points, providing counsel that can improve adherence and help members optimize their pharmacy benefit and find the most cost effective options."