HEALTH

CVS Caremark study notes lack of adherence to cholesterol-lowering medications

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. More than 50% of adults under the age of 45 who are prescribed a medication to treat high cholesterol are not taking their medication as prescribed, according to the findings of a study released Thursday by CVS Caremark.

In fact, the study found that 58% of adults between the ages of 18 and 34 are not taking their cholesterol-lowering medications as prescribed.

The study examined adherence to cholesterol-lowering medications by evaluating de-identified data for more than 74,000 adult patients from the CVS Caremark Health Management Claims Database who incurred claims from a cholesterol-lowering medication between Jan. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2008.

They study found that 42% of patients between the ages of 18 and 34 were optimally adherent to their medications with a medication possession ratio of greater than 80%. In addition, among those patients ages 35 to 44, half were identified as optimally adherent to their high cholesterol medication.

Medication possession ratio is the standard statistic used to measure medication adherence via pharmacy chains.

“This data illustrates that younger adults with high cholesterol are not taking their medication as prescribed, putting them at increased risk for developing heart disease, worsening their long term clinical outcomes and ultimately increasing the cost of their care,” stated Troyen A. Brennan, EVP and chief medical officer for CVS Caremark. “CVS Caremark engages plan participants with chronic diseases, such as high cholesterol, by addressing barriers to evidence-based care. We engage patients in their care early in the process by providing disease and therapy education and help them improve medication adherence through proactive intervention and outreach.”

To help patients adhere to their medication, CVS Caremark has developed the Proactive Pharmacy Care approach, which engages patients earlier with education and personalized outreach to improve adherence. The Adherence to Care solution is a mail and retail-based program designed to impact patient behavior through timely interventions that include face-to-face, first fill counseling; IVR and Web refill reminders, renewals and pick-up prompts; and personalized letters about the importance of staying on a prescribed therapy sent to those patients who have stopped filling a maintenance prescription and their healthcare provider.

According to CVS Caremark, the Adherence to Care program has been shown to help increase adherence to high cholesterol therapies with those members under 45 years of age who participate in the program experiencing a medication possession ratio increase of more than 9%.

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Matrixx seeks to increase brand awareness with more advertising

BY Michael Johnsen

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Matrixx plans to step up its advertising this cough-cold season, converting one-time nasal swab users into purchasers of one of several Zicam oral remedies, Bill Hemelt, acting president and COO, told shareholders during the company’s annual meeting held Wednesday.

“The landscape for the company has changed dramatically as a result of the June 16 [Food and Drug Administration] warning letter,” Hemelt said, referencing the agency’s written concerns that Matrixx’ nasal Zicam products could be associated with an increase in anosmia (the loss of the sense of smell).

Matrixx voluntarily pulled those products off the shelf following that warning letter, though Hemelt noted that so far 10 federal judges had dismissed similar claims prior to the FDA letter.

Accompanying the increased advertising support, Matrixx also plans on implementing a sizeable retail promotional support. “We worked with our retail partners to modify [cough/cold sets] to feature oral Zicam products,” Hemelt said. Hemelt thanked the company’s retail partners for their collective support.

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GSK releases statement on safety of Alli

BY Michael Johnsen

PITTSBURGH In light of raised safety concerns around orlistat, the active ingredient in the weight-loss drug Alli, GlaxoSmithKline on Tuesday stated: “GSK stands firmly behind the safety and efficacy of Alli. Our primary priority is patient health, and we want people to know that there is no evidence that Alli causes liver damage.”

The FDA is reviewing data from suspected cases on liver injury associated with the use of orlistat. Any routine assessment from a regulatory body does not mean that a risk or causal relationship exists, GSK stated. Orlistat’s safety has been established through 100 clinical studies involving more than 30,000 patients, the company added.

Orlistat is a “non-systemically” acting medicine — it is minimally absorbed in the blood and works locally in the gastro-intestinal tract. There is therefore no obvious biological mechanism to suggest liver damage can occur with orlistat.

People who are overweight and obese are predisposed to liver-related disorders.

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