A survey of CVS retail pharmacists revealed that cost remains an obstacle in medication adherence and underscored the pivotal role of the pharmacist in helping people take their chronic medications as prescribed.


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CVS pharmacists cite cost as top nonadherence factor

September 27th, 2012

WOONSOCKET, R.I. – A survey of CVS retail pharmacists revealed that cost remains an obstacle in medication adherence and underscored the pivotal role of the pharmacist in helping people take their chronic medications as prescribed.

CVS Caremark said Thursday that the survey results, released in recognition of American Pharmacists Month in October, showed that 62% of pharmacists reported that the high cost of drugs is the biggest cause of nonadherence for their patients.

Despite that hurdle, 89% said they believed counseling their patients is as important as filling prescriptions, and 88% agreed that patients who pick up their medications and receive first-hand counseling from their pharmacist were more likely to be adherent.

"Our own pharmacists confirm what we are learning from our research into medication adherence — that the pharmacist can be one of the most influential voices in helping patients take their medications as directed," Larry Merlo, president and chief executive officer of CVS Caremark, said in a statement. "Our pharmacists also believe that while they have an important role to play in helping patients stay adherent to their medications, they can achieve even better results through partnership and close collaboration with prescribing physicians."

The online survey was conducted by IntelliQHealth and respondents included more than 2,400 CVS pharmacists nationwide.

When talking about the impact of cost on adherence, 91% of the pharmacists polled agreed that having cost-efficient options to more expensive therapies improves medication adherence. In addition, 89% indicated that their patients welcome being offered generic substitutions as a cost savings measure.

"As cost continues to be a barrier to medication adherence, we need to find ways to help educate patients about their options and let them know that generic medications are a safe, effective and cost-conscious approach to managing chronic diseases," stated Troy Brennan, executive vice president and chief medical officer at CVS Caremark. "For example, our own published research shows that simply educating physicians and patients about the cost impact of requiring that a branded prescription be 'dispensed as written' (DAW) instead of filled with an appropriate generic substitution, could save patients a much as $1.2 billion annually and reduce health system costs by as much as $7.7 billion each year."

CVS noted that its Pharmacy Advisor program enables its pharmacists to engage with PBM members who are diagnosed with chronic conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The pharmacists advise patients about the importance of being adherent to their medications and identify gaps in care, which can also be brought to their physician's attention. The company said that a recent analysis showed that after one year in the Pharmacy Advisor program, certain members using CVS/pharmacy stores had a 17.2% decline in gaps in care.

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