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Patients who adhere to generic statins have lower overall health costs compared with patients adherent to branded statins

Adherence to branded statin therapies historically reduced hospitalization rates, but carried higher overall health costs, study finds

SAN DIEGO — Improving adherence to generic statin drugs for high cholesterol can reduce the costs of health care in a way that adherence to branded statins historically couldn't, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by pharmacy benefit manager Prime Therapeutics and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, is being presented Wednesday at the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy's 25th annual meeting and expo in San Diego. The study found that adherence to generic statin therapy resulted in lower hospitalization rates, which offset higher pharmacy costs and resulted in lower total costs of care. Previous research focusing on adherence to branded statin drugs showed adherence was associated with fewer medical problems but higher total costs, due in part to the higher costs of the drugs.

"We know adherence to statin therapy can keep patients out of the hospital, but in the past, this also came with a higher cost of care," Prime Therapeutics director of health outcomes Patrick Gleason said. "As more generic statins enter the market, we see that generic statins can not only help prevent hospitalizations, but can also improve the quality of life through fewer hospitalizations and contribute to lower overall healthcare costs."

The study was based on pharmacy and medical claims data from 1.2 million members continuously enrolled from 2007 through 2010 and included nearly 22,000 members, of whom 46% were adherent and 54% weren't. Among the adherent patients, researchers saw a hospitalization rate of 25%, compared with 27.6% of those who were not adherent, as well as medical costs of $11,353, compared with $12,375 among the nonadherent patients. Pharmacy costs for the adherent patients were still higher than for the nonadherent patients — $4,016 and $3,079, respectively — but the total cost of care was lower: $15,290 for adherent patients and $15,451 for nonadherent patients.

 

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