Sree Chaguturu, MD, Senior Vice President, CVS Health and Chief Medical Officer, CVS Caremark
As the United States grappled with the enormous threat posed by the coronavirus last spring and social distancing measures took hold, we saw a significant drop in people accessing routine and preventive care. With the threat of a new, deadly and little understood virus, many chose to put off non-emergency medical care. Our analysis of prescription claims from the time shutdowns peaked through the course of the pandemic shows that this drop extended to prescription medications for common chronic conditions. While perhaps not surprising, this drop is concerning, and the patterns also reveal the impact of — and the need to address — social determinants of health.
Our analysis of medication utilization trends, which we reported in the 2020 CVS Caremark Drug Trend Report reflected a steep drop-off in the number of people beginning therapy for chronic conditions or adding additional drugs to an ongoing medication regimen.
As restrictions began to be relaxed in the third quarter, people became more comfortable seeking care again and the strain of the sudden onset of a global pandemic on the health care system lightened, the trend reversed somewhat. However, the recovery was not to pre-pandemic levels of utilization.