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CVS Caremark undertakes multiyear study to improve patient medication adherence

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS Caremark announced on Wednesday that it is working with researchers from Harvard and Brigham and Young Women’s Hospital to investigate patient adherence to prescription drug therapies and develop programs that healthcare providers and pharmacies can use to improve medication adherence.

“As the nation looks for ways to reduce healthcare spending, we need to improve patient compliance with prescribed drug therapies,” stated Troyen Brennen, EVP and chief medical officer for CVS Caremark. “Many reasons have been discussed for patient non-adherence, including cost, forgetfulness, confusion when taking multiple medications, and problems with renewing a prescription. This research, which will be available not only to CVS affiliates but to all pharmacies, will help doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and health plans design programs to help patients stay on their prescribed medication treatments.”

Non-adherence has been widely recognized as a major public health problem, according to prior research cited in numerous medical journals. Non-adherence to essential medications is a frequent cause of preventable hospitalizations and patient illness, with costs to the U.S. health care system estimated at more than $200 billion annually.

To address this public health concern, CVS Caremark, through a research agreement, is working with faculty from Brigham and Young Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences to develop an interdisciplinary initiative to improve medication use. This approach allows experts in disciplines like psychology, sociology and political studies to bring their expertise about patient behavior and health care policy to bear.

The multiyear study has four key components:

  • Determine causes and scope of abandoned prescriptions
  • Drive adherence through simplification and consolidation
  • Evaluate the clinical and financial value of adherence incentives
  • Determine how e-prescribing impacts costs, compliance and safety

“We’ll strive to better understand barriers to adherence that range from patient characteristics (e.g. income or marital status); patients’ attitudes about their condition and the importance of medicine; understanding how to take medications appropriately; the impact of complex therapy; and the trust and communication between the patient, the physician and the pharmacist. We hope this research will help us create strategies to promote wellness in our patients,” stated William Shrank, M.D., MSHS of Brigham and Young Women’s Hospital and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and principal investigator of the program.

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FDA approves hereditary angioedema treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug designed to treat symptoms associated with a rare and potentially fatal genetic disease.

The agency announced the approval of Marburg, Germany-based CSL Behring’s Berinert (C1 esterase inhibitor), for the treatment of abdominal attacks and facial swelling associated with hereditary angioedema in adolescents and adults. The drug is a protein product derived from human plasma.

“Berinert will enhance the treatment options for individuals who experience acute abdominal attacks and facial swelling associated with hereditary angioedema,” FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research acting director Karen Midthun said in a statement.

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Deloitte consumer spending index up for fourth consecutive month

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index rose again in September, hitting its highest level in two years. The index attempts to track consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending.

“The fundamentals of consumer spending continue to improve, giving households increased purchasing power,” said Carl Steidtmann, chief economist with Deloitte Research, a subsidiary of Deloitte Services LP, and author of the monthly index. “The housing market is beginning to show signs of stabilizing while initial unemployment claims have fallen significantly. Household net worth is rising and real wages are climbing at their fastest pace in 40 years. Signs of recovery got a boost from the cash for clunkers program in August, plus a gain in real spending has materialized across the board in recent months.”

Highlights of the index include:

  • Tax Burden: The tax burden continues to fall with the weakening of the economy. The tax burden is at a level only seen on a few occasions over the past 50 years during brief periods following tax rebates. Continued decline is expected.
  • Initial Unemployment Claims: Initial unemployment claims have come down sharply over the past three months which historically has been a reliable signal of economic recovery. Claims are down more than 100,000 from their recession peak.
  • Real Wages: Real wage growth continues to post solid gains due in large part to falling prices. Real wages are up 4.8 percent from a year ago as falling prices have given a big boost to consumer purchasing power.
  • Real Home Prices: The pace of decline in home prices has slowed significantly on a year over year basis. Continued efforts to forestall foreclosures coupled with a tax credit for first-time home buyers have brought some stability to the housing market. The decline in home prices has made home buying much more affordable.

“The Index suggests that many households increasingly have the means to spend, and with the worst of the downturn seemingly behind us, the retail environment may soon see signs of life,” said Stacy Janiak, vice chairman and Deloitte’s U.S. retail leader. “Retailers have tackled cost cutting and cash conservation and the next few months will likely be all about enticing the consumer to spend. Offering personalized marketing, enhancing in-store customer conversion tactics and encouraging online product reviews are just a few of the ways that retailers may be able to gain an edge this holiday season.”

For more information about Deloitte’s retail sector, please visit www.deloitte.com/us/retail.

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