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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NAD questions dietary supplement’s safety; submits concerns to FTC, FDA

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus on Wednesday referred advertising from Metabolic Research around its Stemulite dietary supplement to the Federal Trade Commission and Food and Drug Administration for further review, following the company’s decision not to participate in an NAD review of advertising for the product.

As a part of its ongoing monitoring program and in conjunction with an initiative with the Council for Responsible Nutrition to expand the review of advertising claims for dietary supplements, NAD – the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum – requested that the company provide supporting evidence for advertising claims including,“People who take Stemulite experience deep REM sleep, increased muscle gain and endurance, increased weight loss and fat loss and increased wellness and energy.”

As part of its review, NAD also expressed concerned about several testimonials on the Stemulite Web site.

The advertiser contacted NAD, and despite requesting and being given an extension of time within which to file its response, failed to do so. The advertiser represented to NAD that it would be conducting a study in the future and would participate after the completion of the study.

NAD noted that it is a well-settled principle of advertising law that an advertiser must possess adequate substantiation before it publishes advertising claims. NAD’s procedures provide that if an advertiser does not participate in the process, NAD may refer the advertising at issue to the appropriate government agency for further review.

NAD was “disappointed that the advertiser did not participate in the NAD inquiry, particularly in light of the health and weight-loss claims being made.” Based on the advertiser’s failure to participate, NAD will refer this matter to the FTC and FDA for possible law enforcement action.

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