CVS Caremark-sponsored study sheds greater light on medication nonadherence

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — The results of the CVS Caremark-sponsored review of e-prescriptions, which revealed an issue of primary nonadherence to prescription medications, is yet one more step toward a weapon in the fight against medication nonadherence.

(THE NEWS: CVS Caremark-sponsored review of e-Rxs uncovers issue of primary nonadherence. For the full story, click here)

Nonadherence to prescribed medications is a significant drain on the U.S. healthcare system — an estimated $300 billion annually in preventable hospitalizations and patient illness.

CVS Caremark, in collaboration with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard, has been aggressively looking to better understand patient behavior, with a special focus on medication adherence, to help curb the hefty preventable healthcare costs.

As the article states, the study found that 24% of patients given a new medication by their physician do not fill the prescription. What’s especially important about the findings is that most prior research examined patients who do not take medications as prescribed after filling a first prescription; this study, thanks to the technology of e-prescribing, focused on new prescriptions.

The study, which evaluated more than 423,000 e-prescriptions, also found that prescriptions sent directly to pharmacies or mail-order systems are more likely to be filled than e-prescriptions that doctors print out and give to patients. This finding further illustrates that pharmacies, in order to meet the complex needs of payers and patients, especially those with chronic conditions, will need to adapt and invest.

CVS Caremark stated in a separate report, titled “Insights 2011: Advancing the Science of Pharmacy Care,” that “over the last few years, e-prescribing has proliferated; 250,000 physicians transmitted 280 million prescriptions electronically in 2010 — nearly 50% more than the year before.” Going forward, “enhanced data connectively will be crucial — between prescriber and pharmacy and between the pharmacy and payer or other stakeholder, such as an ACO,” CVS Caremark stated in the report.

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