FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J., Nov. 12 Research presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting shows that an intervention to reduce over-dispensing and waste of asthma medications can succeed without compromising patient safety and can result in substantial cost savings.
Medco Health Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MHS) today released results of a study that examined the effectiveness and safety of a pharmacist-initiated intervention with physicians designed to reduce the over-dispensing of asthmatic rescue inhalers. While rescue inhalers are effective in relieving acute asthma attacks, national guidelines warn against their daily, long-term use. The study revealed that when physicians were provided with educational materials and a series of follow up communications outreach that included information about the consequences of excessive use of rescue inhalers (more than 1 inhaler per month) and required a response from the physician before the new prescription would be dispensed, the number of new prescriptions written for excessive quantities of inhalers dropped by 60 percent.
The study also found that as a result of the intervention, 200,000 fewer inhalers were used over a one-year period (July 2007 through June 2008) by 250,000 asthma patients identified as being prescribed excessive quantities of rescue inhalers. The adjusted savings from this reduction amounted to $4.2 million.
"Excessive use of rescue inhalers wastes medicine, but even more importantly, it can be masking an asthma exacerbation," said Dr. Luis Salmun, national practice leader of the Medco Therapeutic Resource Center® for pulmonary conditions and one of the study researchers. "Rather than over-relying on rescue inhalers, patients should speak to their physicians to make sure that they're using their daily asthma medications properly or to determine if an adjustment in those medications is needed."
The researchers also reviewed pharmacy and medical claims for a subset of the study population - 1,835 adult asthma patients who had recently filled a prescription for excessive quantities of rescue inhalers. During the 12 months following the intervention, 67 percent of the subset (1,230 patients) were no longer prescribed excessive quantities of rescue inhalers, and the patients received, on average, 3.5 fewer inhalers over the course of a year. In addition, the number of hospitalizations and emergency room visits remained relatively constant from the pre- to post-intervention period, indicating that the intervention was safe and well tolerated.
For more information about the study, please visit www.medcoresearch.com.
Medco Health Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MHS) is pioneering the world's most advanced pharmacy® and its clinical research and innovations are part of Medco making medicine smarter(TM) for more than 60 million members.
With more than 20,000 employees dedicated to improving patient health and reducing costs for a wide range of public and private sector clients, and 2008 revenue exceeding $51 billion, Medco ranks 45th on the Fortune 500 list and is named among the world's most innovative, most admired and most trustworthy companies.
For more information, go to http://www.medcohealth.com.
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SOURCE Medco Health Solutions, Inc.