WOONSOCKET, R.I. Nonadherence to maintenance medications is dealing a major blow — $177 billion a year — to the nation’s already overburdened healthcare system, according to recent studies from CVS Caremark.
To help curb the crisis, CVS Caremark is promoting its Proactive Pharmacy Care approach, which engages patients earlier with education and personalized outreach to improve adherence, but also has launched a free program, dubbed ReadyFill, which automatically fills prescriptions for maintenance medications and calls the patient to remind them that their medication is ready to be picked up.
“It is very important for patients to maintain their medication regimen. Skipping medications for any reason can be risky, and patients may end up compromising their health and having more costs in the long-run. Patients should talk to their pharmacist about the best way to manage prescriptions, and simple tools like ReadyFill can help,” stated Papatya Tankut, VP pharmacy professional services for CVS Caremark.
Consumers must sign up to participate in the free ReadyFill program.
According to a new study from CVS Caremark, 28% of patients said they sometimes forget to refill their prescriptions on time, and this is despite the fact that most (86%) believe they can stick to a daily medication schedule. In addition, more than half (52%) said it would be useful if their pharmacy would remind them when it’s time to refill.
The “2009 CVS Caremark Health IQ” study, which examined consumer attitudes and behaviors around health care and prescription usage, found additional reasons why consumers may not be taking their medications and challenges to them filling prescriptions on time:
• Many (43%) admit to simply having forgotten, on occasion, to take their medications.
• 21% of women take five or more prescriptions each month and must remember to fill all of them on time.
• 47% of women said they are more likely to forget to take their own medications than they are to forget to give medication to another family member.
• 34% said they sometimes stop taking their medications if they feel worse while taking them.
• 26% sometimes stop taking their medications if they feel better.
• Some consumers (21%) admit to being careless about taking their medications as prescribed.
• Younger consumers (ages 20 to 34) are more likely than others to report not taking their medications.
The online study was commissioned in April and conducted among 2,000 consumers who report taking at least one maintenance medication. Cooper Research, a healthcare research company in Cincinnati, conducted the study.
Separately, CVS Caremark revealed that more than 50% of patients under the age of 45 who are prescribed a medication to treat high cholesterol are not adherent to the cholesterol-lowering medications. In fact, the data showed that 58% of adults between the ages of 18 and 34 are not taking their cholesterol-lowering medications as prescribed.
This study evaluated data for more than 74,000 adult patients from CVS Caremark Health Management Claims Database who incurred claims for cholesterol-lowering medication between Jan. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2008.
“This data illustrates that younger adults with high cholesterol are not taking their medication as prescribed, putting them at increased risk for developing heart disease, worsening their long-term clinical outcomes and ultimately increasing the cost of their care,” stated Troyen Brennan, EVP and chief medical officer of CVS Caremark.
“CVS Caremark engages plan participants with chronic diseases, such as high cholesterol, by addressing barriers to evidence-based care. We engage patients in their care early in the process by providing disease and therapy education and help them improve medication adherence through proactive intervention and outreach.”