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Walgreens study: Pharmacist intervention improves statin adherence


DEERFIELD Ill. — A Walgreens study released Wednesday has found that patients starting high cholesterol medication for the first time who participated in enhanced face-to-face counseling sessions with a community pharmacist demonstrated better medication adherence than those who did not participate in the sessions.

Nonadherence is an especially important issue for patients with high cholesterol, as it places them at a greater risk of complications from heart disease. The study, titled "The impact of pharmacist face-to-face counseling to improve medication adherence among patients initiating statin therapy," was published in April in the online journal, Patient Preference and Adherence.


“This study demonstrates the power of face-to-face pharmacist interactions,” said Jeff Kang, Walgreens SVP health and wellness services and solutions. “Just two sessions focused on barriers to adherence for patients taking a new medicine for high cholesterol helped them establish a routine for adhering to their treatment. As a result, these patients potentially improved their long-term health outcomes. At Walgreens, our goal is to help our patients stay well while reducing overall healthcare costs and programs that address the significant issue of prescription medication nonadherence are a crucial element of this.”


To conduct the study, a group of more than 2,000 patients new to statin therapy were followed for 12 months. After inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied, the intervention group consisted of 586 patients, and the comparison group comprised 516 patients. Pharmacists trained in brief motivational interviewing conducted counseling sessions that addressed barriers to adherence for statin patients, such as perceptions of the value of the therapy, fear of side effects and simple forgetfulness or establishing a routine to take medication.


The study found that at 12 months the intervention group had significantly greater adherence than the comparison group. Some of the study findings included:

  • The intervention group had an average adherence of 61.8% and the comparison group had 56.9%;

  • 40.9% of the intervention group and only 33.7% of comparison group achieved the clinically important 80% adherence; and

  • 43.9% of the intervention group and 38.2% of comparison group continued taking their statin medication.

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