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Walgreens study: Medication adherence is important in rheumatoid arthritis treatment

Patients who are adherent to their non-infused RA biologic medication are more likely to have lower medical costs, said a study by AllianceRx Walgreens Pharmacy and Walgreens.
Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
Levy

A recent study evaluating the use of non-infused biologics in patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis demonstrated that patients who are adherent to their non-infused RA biologic medication are more likely to have lower medical costs.

They are also likely to have lower odds of hospitalization and length of stay, according to a retrospective cohort study conducted by AllianceRx Walgreens Pharmacy, a specialty and home delivery pharmacy, and Walgreens.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease, in which the immune system attacks healthy cells in the body by mistake, causing inflammation (painful swelling) most commonly in the joints. In affected joint tissue, the lining of the joint becomes inflamed, causing damage that can lead to chronic pain or deformity.

The Pharmacy Quality Alliance promotes a useful reporting metric of proportion of days covered for non-infused biologic medications to treat RA. This metric is known as PDC-RA. The objective of the study was to identify significant associations between this PQA PDC adherence metric and total medical cost, hospitalizations and LOS for RA patients.

[Read more: AllianceRx Walgreens Pharmacy makes new name official]

For the study, researchers used both the MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters databases, and Supplemental or Coordination of Benefits databases from 2019 - 2020. They examined three types of yearly outcomes derived per patient: summed healthcare costs; any hospitalization within the year; and summed LOS per hospitalization event.

Francis Staskon, principal analyst of Health Analytics, Research and Reporting at Walgreens, and lead author of the study, said the research found that "adherence to a non-infused RA biologic can lead to lower medical costs, odds of hospitalization, and LOS after controlling for many other influences on these outcomes. In addition, the findings support the PDC-RA methodology presented about calculated adherence rates used for reporting requirements."

Renee Baiano, clinical program manager for AllianceRx Walgreens Pharmacy and an author of the study, said the research findings underscore the importance of patients remaining adherent to their therapy. She also said that specialty-trained pharmacists should take a proactive approach to encourage medication adherence.

"Identifying barriers to adherence and educating patients on the importance of taking their medication can increase the patient's chance at disease improvement," Baiano said. "Whether it's helping the patient take their medication the right way or notifying their prescriber about a new adverse event, a specialty pharmacist can play a vital role in helping patients manage their condition."

[Read more: AllianceRX Walgreens Prime to become AllianceRx Walgreens Pharmacy]

Researchers presented the findings Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023, at the NASP 2023 Annual Meeting & Expo in Grapevine, Texas. 

 

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