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Study: Hypercholesterolemia patients adherent to medication regimen may be healthier, but at a price


ST. PAUL, Minn. — Patients with high cholesterol who take statins may be healthier than those who do not, but their overall healthcare costs may be slightly higher than their counterparts, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by pharmacy benefit manager Prime Therapeutics in collaboration with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, found that while hypercholesterolemia patients adherent to statin medication went to the hospital or emergency department 2.6% less often than nonadherent individuals — resulting in medical costs that were 7% lower (a difference of $767) — the lower medical costs were offset by pharmacy costs that were 45% higher (a difference of $1,606). In the study, researchers from Prime and Blue Cross compared medical and pharmacy costs among individuals with high cholesterol who were adherent to their statin medication to individuals who were not adherent ("adherence" was defined as following the medication regime 80% of the time or more). Of the 45,869 members included in the study, 21,693 (47.3%) were adherent and 24,176 (52.7%) nonadherent during the two-year follow-up period.

The study results were presented at the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy's 2012 Educational Conference.

"This study is a continuation of our collaborative work with Blue Cross into understanding the connection between adherence and total cost of health care, including hospitalizations," said Pat Gleason, director of clinical outcomes assessment with Prime. "With the increasing availability of generic statins, especially the generic atorvastatin of the brand Lipitor, the higher pharmacy costs we found may be lowered. In this study, adherence to statins was associated with lower medical costs and hospitalizations, two very important outcomes that will help up us recommend solutions that lead to healthier outcomes for individuals."

To view the full results of the study, click here.

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