CVS Caremark Corp. and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores are among the members of a new national partnership formed to improve medication adherence rates.

Prescriptions for a Healthy America, medication adherence, medication compliance, pharmacy, CVS Caremark, National Association of Chain Drug Stores, NACDS, Anita Allemand, Steve Anderson, John Castellani, PhRMA, Joel White, Council for Affordable Health Coverage, disease management, health care, health care costs, health care industry, Merck, Michael Rosenblatt, Merck, medication adherence rates, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Public Opinion Strategies

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New coalition makes medication adherence its mission

May 2nd, 2013

WASHINGTON – CVS Caremark Corp. and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores are among the members of a new national partnership formed to improve medication adherence rates.

Called Prescriptions for a Healthy America, the coalition represents patients, health care providers, pharmacy organizations, consumers and health care industry leaders.

The partnership said it will work closely with elected officials and other key stakeholders to develop policies that help doctors, pharmacies and other health care practitioners spur patient adherence to their prescriptions as a linchpin of any wellness or disease management plan. Citing findings from a new survey on medication adherence, the group increasing compliance with medication regimens will rein in health care costs and improve patient health outcomes.

The survey of 800 adults, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Public Opinion Strategies, illustrates the link between adherence to prescriptions and better health.

For instance, 64% of  who take medication do not properly adhere to prescription regimens, and a third of chronically ill patients failed to do so at least once during the past month. Almost nine out of 10 patients who adhere to their prescriptions describe their health as "good" or "excellent," compared with just 65% of patients with poor adherence describing their health that way.

"Poor medication adherence is a serious problem that impacts the health of our members and increases overall health care costs but by working together the health care community can find solutions. This is why we have joined Prescriptions for a Healthy America," Anita Allemand, vice president of product innovation and management at CVS Caremark, said in a statement. "Together, we hope to find commonsense solutions to improve medication adherence.

"CVS/Caremark is already engaged on the front lines to make a difference," Allemand added. "For example, we have invested in research with key academic partners to better understand why people take or don't take their medications and are actively working to identify and implement innovative solutions across our business that can improve adherence."

In other key findings of the survey, more than 50% of Americans who take medications said they would be more likely to take their medicine as prescribed if they were better informed about the potential negative health consequences of nonadherence. Some possible policy solutions also received strong support from respondents, including providing clear and easy-to-understand information about prescription drugs and how to take them properly (92%); improving information technology to give all of a patient's doctors and health care providers an up-to-date list of medications filled by the patient (89%); and encouraging more discussion between patients and doctors about medication (89%).

"Working together, we will help advance achievable solutions to help improve medication adherence among patients of all ages, backgrounds and geographic locations," stated Joel White, executive director of the Council for Affordable Health Coverage, which is leading the Prescriptions for a Healthy America initiative. "Improving adherence will improve health, lower costs and make coverage more affordable. It is a national health care conversation that warrants the attention of policymakers and consumers alike. Going forward, we will work to implement a blueprint with the goal of addressing the issue head on."

NACDS noted that pharmacists are well-positioned to foster the proper and safe use of prescription medicines, given the wide access of community pharmacies and patients' high level of trust in pharmacy professionals.

"At NACDS, we are seeing ever-greater awareness among policymakers about the benefits of boosting medication adherence, and the launch of the partnership is ideally timed to help build that momentum for the good of patient health," NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson commented. "We appreciate the opportunity to work shoulder to shoulder with the partnership members on an issue that rightfully could be considered one of the most pressing health challenges and opportunities of the day."

Tens of thousands of people die each year because of poor medication adherence, the partnership noted. Research published in the journal Health Affairs found that emergency room visits and hospitalizations rise by over 10% for diabetics who fail to take their medicines as prescribed, and hospitalizations increase for nonadherent patients with congestive heart failure, hypertension and dyslipidemia, according to the partnership.

In addition, improving medication compliance can lower state and federal health care spending, given that the cost of nonadherence has been estimated at $100 billion to $300 billion annually, including expenses from hospitalizations, nursing home admissions and premature deaths.

"We all share the common goal of providing patients with the highest quality of care, and that goal drives this effort," commented John Castellani, president and chief executive officer of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). "As we focus on advancing research and new medicines, our industry will continue to highlight solutions such as improved medication adherence that help strengthen better health outcomes and control health care costs."

Other organizations and companies participating in the Prescriptions for a Healthy America partnership include the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Heart Association, American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, American Osteopathic Association, AstraZeneca, Easter Seals, GlaxoSmithKline, Healthcare Compliance Packaging Council, Healthcare Leadership Council, MeadWestvaco, Merck, Mirixa, National Consumers League, National Council for Community and Behavioral Health, National Council for Prescription Drug Programs, National Council on Aging, National Council on Patient Information and Education, National Pharmaceutical Council, Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative, Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, Third Way and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

"People who take their medication as prescribed may have a better chance of living healthier lives," stated Michael Rosenblatt, executive vice president and chief medical officer at Merck. "We think patients, providers, lawmakers and companies like Merck all must play a part in improving patient education and health literacy, care coordination and medication management, which can lead to improved adherence."