CVS: Generics essential to reducing health costs
Health care is like precision engineering; tweaking one element ever so slightly can mean the difference between a healthy life and an early death or, in the case of drug spending, between nearly $50,000 and just north of $1,000.
That sums up a study published in last month’s issue of the journal Health Affairs. The study, conducted by CVS Caremark, Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, found that the expansion of generic medications for treating and preventing chronic diseases could make the cost of preventive health care much lower than previously thought because earlier studies made projections based on the costs of branded drugs. The study was part of a three-year research collaboration between the three groups focused on understanding reasons for medication nonadherence and developing ways to improve it.
As recently as 2008, a study found that the cost of lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol was $83,327 per quality adjusted life year, or QALY, a financial measure based on the effect of improving the quality of life for patients with chronic diseases. But that number assumed patients were using branded drugs; when the numbers were recalculated for the same treatment using generic drugs, the cost went down to $17,084. When calculating the cost of glucose control, the 2008 number was $48,759 per QALY. Today, with generics, it stands at $1,022.
“No matter who holds the financial risk — the patient, employer or government health plan — using generic medications has to be a key part of managing treatment for chronically ill patients,” CVS Caremark EVP, chief medical officer and study author Troyen Brennan said. “This is a practical solution we need to focus on as we work to operate the healthcare system in a more cost-effective way.”
In response to the findings, the study’s authors made a number of policy recommendations, including amendments to state Medicaid statutes that require patient consent for substitution of generics; limitations on the use of such prescribing practices as dispense as written; ensuring electronic prescribing guidelines encourage use of cost-effective medications; developing programs to educate physicians and patients about the effectiveness of generics and dispel notions that generics are less effective than branded drugs; and developing incentive programs through pharmacy benefit managers and health plans that promote use of generics.
Absolutely no correlation to the increased profit of generics in retail pharmacy. None whatsoever.
NACDS supports Affordable Medicines Utilization Act of 2011
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Bipartisan legislation recently introduced to the Senate has received endorsement from a group representing the retail pharmacy industry.
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores said that the Affordable Medicines Utilization Act of 2011, introduced by Sens. Scott Brown, R-Mass.; Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; and John McCain, R-Ariz., "will provide incentives that will encourage state programs to efficiently use their healthcare dollars through increased use of more cost-efficient generic drugs while at the same time generating savings for not only the state but for the patient as well,” NACDS wrote in a letter.
NACDS did, however, caution against "evaluating spending on prescription drugs in a vacuum."
The bill seeks to offer states incentives to use generic drugs by allowing states to temporarily keep a portion of the savings, the senators said.
“With our nation in a financial crisis and as federal and state healthcare expenditures continue to rise, we must ensure that our healthcare programs are efficiently managed,” McCain said. “A recent study found that the federal/state Medicaid program potentially overspends by more than $300 million per year on brand-name drugs when a cheaper generic drug equivalent is available. This bipartisan proposal incentivizes state Medicaid programs to substitute generics for more expensive brand-name drugs, introducing real competition for reimbursement dollars and saving taxpayers’ hard-earned money.”
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Patients using mail-order pharmacy for new statin Rxs achieved better cholesterol control in study
OAKLAND, Calif. — Patients in northern California using Kaiser Permanente’s services who received new prescriptions for statin drugs through mail-order pharmacy showed better control of their cholesterol in the first three to 15 months following the start of therapy than those who obtained them from Kaiser Permanente Northern California pharmacies, according to a new study.
The 100,298-patient study, published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, found that 85% of patients using mail-order pharmacy achieved their desired cholesterol levels, compared with 74.2% of those who used the local pharmacy.
“While the findings of this study should be confirmed in a randomized controlled trial, they provide new evidence that mail-order pharmacy use may be associated with improved care and outcomes for patients for risk factors with cardiovascular disease,” lead study author and Kaiser Permanente Division of Research investigator Julie Schmittdiel said. “Though mail order may not be right for all patients, this study shows that it is one possible tool in the broader healthcare system-level toolbox that can help patients meet their medication needs.”
Schmittdiel said the study was the first to examine whether mail-order pharmacy use is related to improved cardiovascular risk factor outcomes.
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