For nearly 90 percent of people with chronic and complex diseases, prescription drugs are the “first, logical choice for medical intervention.” Unfortunately, up to 50 percent don’t take their medications, and up to one-third don’t even have their prescriptions filled.
This disconnect between patients’ need for prescription drugs and their ability to obtain and take them as prescribed was among the health care challenges that Tom Moriarty, EVP, Chief Policy and External Affairs Officer, and General Counsel for CVS Health discussed at the National Association of Attorneys Generals’ April 2017 Summit.
Moriarty described three important and interrelated health care challenges: chronic disease, the cost of prescription drugs, and a fractured delivery system, and shared some of the ways the private sector is delivering solutions.
Rx Care Can Improve Health, Lower Costs
With nearly 85 percent of our country’s health care dollars going toward caring for Americans with chronic illnesses and complex diseases, it’s critical that all stakeholders work together to find solutions.
The FDA’s drug approval process is one of many examples of potential changes that could make a meaningful impact. At the start of 2017, more than 4,000 generic drugs were pending approval at the FDA. By facilitating a more efficient approval process, the FDA can encourage competition and innovation, which has a downstream impact on patient access and cost.
Market dynamics are also an important piece of the puzzle. New branded products are being launched at high prices, and manufacturers are increasing prices on older drugs as well. The increase in “me-too” drugs coming to market and the decrease in breakthrough therapies are also contributing to higher prices.
And as more consumers enroll in health plans with higher deductibles and copays, high out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions increase the likelihood that they are never filled.
Improving Medication Adherence
Studies have shown that improved medication adherence could save up to nearly $300 billion in unnecessary medical costs each year. And because pharmacies represent the “front door of care,” CVS Health can be a valuable strategic partner to drive higher adherence rates.
“Our research has found that face-to-face personalized counseling and clinically effective interventions are two to three times more effective than other interactions at increasing adherence and improving health outcomes,” said Moriarty. “Clearly, pharmacists are an influential voice in helping patients take their medications as directed.”