PHARMACY

CVS Caremark outlines results of personalized consumer communications program

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark outlined on Tuesday at a consumer health engagement conference the results of a personalized consumer communications program designed to encourage patients to take their medications as doctors direct.

Early results of the program showed increases in consumers signing up for automatic prescription refills and more readily substituting branded medications for generic medicines to lower costs.

The program is part of a collaboration CVS Caremark has initiated with behavioral economists from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, Tuck Business School at Dartmouth College and Carnegie Mellon University. Kevin Volpp from Wharton, Punam Keller from Tuck and George Loewenstein from Carnegie Mellon are members of CVS Caremark’s Behavior Change Research Partnership, formed by the company to apply behavioral economics to improve how pharmacy care is provided to customers.

The findings from the research were outlined by Bari Harlam, SVP member engagement for CVS Caremark, at Silverlink’s RESULTS 2011: The Consumer Health Engagement Conference. The conference, held in Boston on Tuesday and Wednesday, focused on innovative ways healthcare companies can engage consumers to take a more active role in their healthcare decisions.

In her remarks, Harlam said that CVS Caremark is measuring the impact of different communications using behavioral science principles on making messages timely, relevant, easy to understand and easy to implement. In addition, such information can be tailored to outline individual medication and cost options to give consumers a chance to consider their own potential cost savings.

"By giving patients who are signing up for prescriptions online an active choice concerning their care, we have seen a significant improvement in the number of people signing up for our automatic prescription refill program," Harlam said. "By providing personalized prescription guides that outline options in easy-to-understand language — whether the communications be on the telephone, face-to-face with pharmacists or by letter — we are seeing an increase in the numbers of patients willing to consider generics."

Harlam said CVS Caremark is investing in behavioral change research and ways to enhance communication as part of its effort to improve customer service to keep patients adherent to their medicines. By helping customers take their medications as doctors direct, they can avoid unnecessary healthcare costs and hospitalizations.

CVS Caremark also has invested in research targeting medication adherence through a three-year collaboration with Harvard and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

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Tribenzor well-tolerated among older patients in study

BY Alaric DeArment

PARSIPPANY, N.J. — A drug made by Daiichi-Sankyo was safe and effective in maintaining reductions in blood pressure in older patients, according to a new study presented at the American Society of Hypertension’s 26th annual meeting in New York.

The “TRINITY” study of Tribenzor (olmesartan medoxomil, amlodipine besylate and hydrochlorothiazide) showed the drug was well-tolerated and effective in patients ranging in age from younger than 65 years to older than 65 years, after a year.

“Older patients generally have a more difficult time achieving recommended blood pressure levels and as a result, their hypertension often remains uncontrolled,” University of Alabama medical professor Suzanne Oparil said. “However, this analysis shows that long-term blood-pressure control can be achieved safely and effectively across all studied dosing strengths with a triple combination therapy regardless of age.”

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Report: States scale back funding to HIV, AIDS medication programs

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Several states are cutting funding to programs that provide HIV medications to people who can’t afford them in an effort to reduce spending, according to a published report.

The Washington Post reported that more than 8,300 people are on waiting lists to obtain antiretrovirals and other drugs that treat HIV, AIDS and related conditions. The Post article highlighted particularly large program cuts in Illinois and Georgia, as well as one proposed for Florida.

The programs are designed for patients who can’t afford HIV/AIDS drugs, lack insurance or have limited coverage.

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