Express Scripts: Aligning patient behavior, intentions could save money for healthcare system

ST. LOUIS — The road to waste reduction is paved with good intentions.

That’s the conclusion of pharmacy benefit manager Express Script’s "2010 Drug Trend Report," which found that 33% of annual pharmacy-related waste can be eliminated by encouraging patients to improve common behaviors linked to their prescription drugs by harnessing their good intentions.

The report, a Harris Interactive study commissioned by the PBM, found what the company called a gap between patient intentions and patient actions. In one example, 82% of patients using branded drugs would rather use generics. The report found that if all patients consistently used generics, low-cost brands and home delivery of medications when available and appropriate, it would save the country’s healthcare system as much as $403 billion per year.

“Don’t let behavior fool you,” Express Scripts chief scientist Bob Nease said. “Patients’ behavior is often misleading and doesn’t represent their underlying intention. Our research and experience show that most patients, when presented with a choice, make decisions that lower costs and improve their health — decisions that also are in the plan sponsor’s best interest.”

Other findings in the report included a 19.6% increase in the specialty drug trend, showing a consistent double-digit increase in trend every year since 2004. Meanwhile, trend for traditional medications fell by more than 50%, and overall drug trend increased by 3.6%, compared with a 6.4% increase in 2009.

Diabetes drugs also saw an increase in trend growth, by 12.5%, while drug spend on ulcer disease treatments fell by 13.7%, thanks to more generic and over-the-counter drugs entering the market.

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