The study, "Medication Adherence Leads to Lower Health Care Use and Costs Despite Increased Drug Spending," was released in the January issue of Health Affairs. The pharmacy and medical claims data of 135,000 patients with congestive heart failure, diabetes, hypertension and dyslipidemia were analysed to determine the direct effect of medication adherence on health care costs.
Roebuck MC, Liberman JN, Gemmill-Toyama M, Brennan TA.: Medication adherence leads to lower health care use and costs despite increased drug spending. Health Aff (Millwood). 2011 Jan;30(1):91-9.
Researchers have routinely found that improved medication adherence-getting people to take medicine prescribed for them-is associated with greatly reduced total health care use and costs. But previous studies do not provide strong evidence of a causal link. This article employs a more robust methodology to examine the relationship. Our results indicate that although improved medication adherence by people with four chronic vascular diseases increased pharmacy costs, it also produced substantial medical savings as a result of reductions in hospitalization and emergency department use. Our findings indicate that programs to improve medication adherence are worth consideration by insurers, government payers, and patients, as long as intervention costs do not exceed the estimated health care cost savings.
Troyen A. Brennan, MD, MPH, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of CVS Caremark said about the results of the study: „The annual per person savings for chronically ill patients who were adherent to medications compared to those who were not amounted to $7,823 for those with congestive heart failure, $3,756 for a diabetes patient, $3,908 for hypertension and $1,258 for dyslipidemia or high cholesterol. Across all conditions, adherence was associated with significantly lower annual inpatient hospital days."
"No matter what the intervention, the researchers agreed that actively encouraging medication adherence for chronic disease should be a top priority," noted M. Christopher Roebuck, director of strategic research for CVS Caremark and lead author of the study. "Despite higher pharmacy spending the reduction in hospitalizations and emergency room use resulted in substantial savings."
This study highlighted that there is a clear need for effective adherence-enhancing interventions to improve patient outcomes and/or reduce health-care costs.