PHARMACY

Many caregivers forgo their own medication adherence, research finds

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — Many people who provide care and support to loved ones said they are more likely to be nonadherent to their own personal medication regimen than to neglect providing medications to those they are caring for, according to a new study by researchers at Harvard University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and CVS Caremark. Given this, there’s a significant opportunity for pharmacists and doctors to identify and work with caregivers to improve medication adherence and chronic disease management.

In a study published online this week in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, the researchers said, "Approximately one-half of caregivers reported they are more likely to forgo their own medications than the medication needs of their caregivees, especially if cost was a problem, and that caring for their family members was more important than caring for themselves."

The researchers added, "Our findings indicate caregiving status may be an important characteristic for providers to identify and that caregivers may represent a fertile target for adherence interventions to improve chronic disease management and prevent chronic disease."

More than 65 million Americans describe themselves as caregivers, and as the U.S. population ages, that number is expected to grow. The latest study is a product of CVS Caremark’s three-year collaboration with Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital to research pharmacy claims data to better understand patient behavior, and how the healthcare system can improve it, particularly around medication adherence.

The JAPhA study was published as CVS Caremark is sponsoring a forum on adherence at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to discuss the research findings of its collaboration and to outline future research and program initiatives the company is pursuing to address the problem that is estimated to cost the U.S. healthcare system almost $300 billion annually.

For the JAPhA study, the research team conducted an online survey of 2,000 retail pharmacy customers of which 38%, or 762 respondents, described themselves as caregivers. Of that group:

  • 45% said they somewhat or strongly agreed that they are more likely to forget to take their own medications, even though they provide family members with their medicines;

  • 46% said caring for their family is more important than caring for themselves, and 52% said they are more likely to sacrifice their own health to make sure they properly care for family members;

  • 53% reported that managing both their personal health and caring for another is stressful and that they eat to cope with that stress; and

  • When comparing caregivers with noncaregivers, caregivers said they are 10% more likely to forget taking their medicines, 11% are likely to stop taking their medications if they feel better and 13% said they are likely to forget filling their refills.

"These results highlight an important opportunity for our industry to work with a target population to increase adherence," stated Troyen Brennan, EVP and chief medical officer of CVS Caremark, and a co-author of the study. "Doctors need to identify caregivers so they can provide appropriate support. In addition, pharmacists are uniquely positioned to intervene and encourage caregivers to take their medicine, because the caregiver is often the person who is picking up medications for both family members and themselves."

"We found there is a compelling relationship between caregiving and medication adherence," stated William Shrank of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and lead author of the study. "Caregivers appear to be so focused on helping family members that they often forget to take care of themselves — behavior that can have severe consequences for their health and well-being. Healthcare professionals should identify and target this group to help them better manage their personal health while caring for family members."

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PHARMACY

Walgreens, Johns Hopkins Medicine announce chronic disease research collaboration

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — Johns Hopkins Medicine and Walgreens on Wednesday announced an agreement between the two companies that will promote collaboration on population-based research.

Also part of the agreement, Johns Hopkins and Walgreens will jointly review and develop protocols to improve outcomes of patients with chronic diseases and explore the development of new models for improving care for individuals.

“By collaborating with Johns Hopkins Medicine, we will access some of the best expertise in health care to develop research, protocols and training programs designed to improve patient outcomes through our nationwide network of accessible community pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physicians and other clinicians,” stated Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness.

“Combining our clinical expertise and research know-how with their nationwide resources — including pharmacies, clinics, worksite health centers, information systems and 70,000 healthcare service providers — will generate new approaches to improve population health,” added Fred Brancati, professor of medicine and director of the Division of General Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Out of this agreement, new educational and training programs will be developed for Walgreens’ 70,000 healthcare service providers.

“The agreement provides JHM with the opportunity to develop innovative population-based research ideas with a nationwide industry leader who is committed to improving healthcare outcomes and [who] possesses advanced data systems and a large patient base,” the companies stated. As part of a commitment to patient privacy, all patient information used for these studies will be anonymous.

Specifically, the agreement sets up opportunities for:

  • Research programs: In conjunction with the current Walgreens research team, JHM experts will develop new ideas for research in disease management, screening and prevention that they will spin off into proposals for funding;

  • Clinical protocol development/review: Johns Hopkins faculty are international leaders in developing healthcare protocols, medical guidelines and algorithms in the areas of chronic disease management. They will work closely with Walgreens experts to review and improve care;

  • Professional training: By leveraging the capabilities within JHM in the area of on-site and distance education for physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, technicians, pharmacists and others, JHM hopes to develop a comprehensive program to expand and enhance the ongoing professional education of the professionals within the Walgreens network; and

  • Clinical program development and health plan services: JHM and Walgreens will explore the possibility of jointly developing lifestyle, chronic care and disease-specific programs.

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Mylan launches generic Roxicodone through deal with Coastal Pharmaceuticals

BY Alaric DeArment

PITTSBURGH — Mylan has launched a generic version of an opioid painkiller, the company said Wednesday.

Mylan announced the launch of oxycodone hydrochloride tablets in the 5-mg, 15-mg and 30-mg strengths. Mylan is launching the drug under a development and supply agreement with Coastal Pharmaceuticals.

The drug is a generic version of Xanodyne’s Roxicodone, a treatment for moderate to severe pain. Oxycodone hydrochloride tablets had sales of about $325 million during the 12-month period ended in March, according to IMS Health.

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