CVS Caremark and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey Study Finds Many Patients With Chronic Illnesses are Not Filling Initial Prescriptions

Thursday, April 29, 2010 General News
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WOONSOCKET, R.I. and NEWARK, N.J., April 29 A significant number of patients with chronic illnesses are not filling their prescriptions according to a new study conducted by CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS) and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ). The study, published this week in the American Journal of Pharmacy Benefits, found that more than 20 percent of patients who were prescribed asthma controllers and over 34 percent of patients who were prescribed medications for high cholesterol did not fill their initial prescriptions.

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"Most previous studies on primary nonadherence have depended upon patient self-reporting or focused on hospital populations that could be tracked more closely," said Joshua N. Liberman, Vice President of Strategic Research at CVS Caremark and the study's primary author. "With the increasing use of e-prescribing we can now get a more accurate picture of how many members fail to fill that first prescription and insights into factors associated with that failure."

"By analyzing e-prescribing data we now have a very clear picture of how many patients are not filling their prescriptions," said Richard Popiel M.D., Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Horizon BCBSNJ. "The study shows that there needs to be more education and intervention to ensure patients understand the importance of adhering to prescribed medical protocols."

The review by CVS Caremark looked at e-prescriptions written by 507 doctors in the Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ) network between January 2006 and October 31, 2006. The intent of the study was to determine the extent and cause of primary nonadherence for people prescribed medications for high cholesterol and asthma. The study reviewed only e-prescriptions written for the two chronic illnesses, which gives a clearer indication of those not filling their initial prescription because electronic orders reach drug stores immediately and claims data shows which prescriptions are picked up -- or not.

The study indicates that the issue of nonadherence is larger than previously thought; and highlights the need for additional education efforts and intervention programs to improve the likelihood of patients adhering to the protocols prescribed by their doctor.

Non-adherence to essential chronic medications has been widely recognized as a major public health problem in studies published in medical journals. Past studies show one-quarter of people receiving prescriptions never fill their first prescription, and patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes and coronary artery disease adhere to their ongoing medication regimen about half of the time. 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 about $300 billion annually.

CVS Caremark has launched a multi-year effort to better understand why some people stop taking their medications. Among the efforts are a three-year collaboration with researchers from Harvard and Brigham and Women's Hospital to study pharmacy claims data to better understand patient behavior around medication adherence and the launch of a Behavior Change Research Partnership led by experts from Carnegie Mellon University, Dartmouth University's Tuck School of Business and the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and The Wharton School of Business. The CVS Caremark and Harvard collaboration is also looking at adherence through the lens of e-prescribing, among other topics.

About CVS Caremark

CVS Caremark is the largest pharmacy health care provider in the United States. Through our integrated offerings across the entire spectrum of pharmacy care, we are uniquely positioned to provide greater access, to engage plan participants in behaviors that improve their health and to lower overall health care costs for plan sponsors and participants. CVS Caremark is a market leader in mail order pharmacy, retail pharmacy, specialty pharmacy, and retail clinics. We are also a leading provider of Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans. As one of the country's largest pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), we provide access to a network of approximately 60,000 pharmacies, including approximately 7,000 CVS/pharmacy stores that provide unparalleled service and capabilities. Our clinical expertise includes one of the industry's most comprehensive disease management programs. General information about CVS Caremark is available through the Company's Web site at

About Horizon BCBSNJ

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, the state's oldest and largest health insurer, is a not-for-profit health services corporation. Horizon BCBSNJ serves over 3.6 million members and is headquartered in Newark with offices in Wall, Mt. Laurel, and West Trenton.Horizon BCBSNJ provides a wide variety of health and dental insurance products and services, including Medicare and Medicaid products, for businesses and individuals. Horizon BCBSNJ is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Learn more at

Media Contact: Christine Cramer Daniel Emmer Jon Tashjian CVS Caremark Horizon BCBSNJ Weber Shandwick (401) 770-3317 (973) 466-4805 (617) 520-7118


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