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CVS Health Lauds New Research Showing that Limiting Pharmaceutical Detailing Can Impact Prescribing Behavior

May 02, 2017 | Pharmacy

Findings are an important recognition of the role of pharmaceutical companies in influencing prescribing behavior that could drive up health care costs

Overuse of brand name drugs resulted in $73 billion in costs to the U.S. health care system between 2010-2012

WOONSOCKET, R.I., May 2, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) today lauded findings from new research showing that policies limiting pharmaceutical sales activities at academic medical centers resulted in a modest, but significant change in prescribing behavior. The research, published today in an issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) focused on conflicts of interest in medicine, found that when these policies were implemented there was a decrease in prescribing of drugs detailed by pharmaceutical sales representatives and an increase in prescribing of non-detailed drugs, the majority of which (more than 95 percent) were generics. This research underscores the need for continued monitoring of pharmaceutical marketing practices and the ongoing adoption of programs and policies that increase the availability and utilization of generic drugs in the marketplace, as a way to help drive down overall drug spending.

"Physician visits from drug sales representatives help keep expensive brand name drugs top-of-mind for physicians, which can ultimately impact their prescribing behavior," said Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of CVS Health and a study co-author. "At a time when the cost of prescription drugs and pharmacy care is under increased scrutiny, this new data shows that policies to restrict pharmaceutical sales calls can lead to increased prescribing of equally effective, less expensive generic drugs."

Researchers at the UCLA Medical Center and Carnegie Mellon University compared prescribing practices of physicians at academic medical centers in five states before and after implementation of restrictive pharmaceutical detailing policies over a six-year period. De-identified pharmacy claims data was provided by CVS Health for eight drug classes used to treat common, chronic conditions for which lower-cost generics are available, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The study found that when more restrictive policies to limit on-site pharmaceutical marketing activity were adopted by the medical centers, there was a decrease in market share of 1.67 percentage points for brand name drugs previously detailed by pharmaceutical representatives and an increase in market share of lower cost, mostly generic, alternatives by 0.84 percentage points across the majority of drug classes.

"This research is instructive as we look at ways to help curb overall health care spending and points to a tremendous opportunity for increasing utilization of generic medicines as a measured approach to help control overall pharmacy spend," added Dr. Brennan. "In fact, when high cost brand name drugs are prescribed more often, research suggests that overall health care spending can rise exponentially, much of which is likely avoidable."

Clinically equivalent and often more cost effective than their brand name counterparts, generic drugs help control pharmacy spend and increase access to important therapies for patients who could be deterred by the high cost of some branded drugs. In fact, according to the Association for Accessible Medicines, the use of generic drugs produces annual savings in excess of $200 billion. Additionally, in a separate editorial also published in today's issue of JAMA, authors cite research showing that the overuse of high cost brand name medications resulted in about $73 billion in costs to the U.S. health care system between 2010-2012, about a third of which was paid for by patients.

Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), including CVS Caremark, the PBM of CVS Health, also help drive value for payors and patients with formularies that favor generic drugs. In fact, in 2016, generic drugs had the largest deflationary impact on CVS Caremark drug trend the year-over-year growth in prescription spending due to higher dispensing rates combined with lower overall inflation and falling prices for most generics. In addition, increasing drug competition by addressing the backlog of generic medicines awaiting FDA approval and promoting policies that do not delay market entry of generic drugs will help increase the number of lower cost generic drugs available in the marketplace.

About CVS Health

CVS Health is a pharmacy innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Through its nearly 9,700 retail locations, more than 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with nearly 90 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year, expanding specialty pharmacy services, and a leading stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, the company enables people, businesses and communities to manage health in more affordable and effective ways. This unique integrated model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at

Media Contacts:

Christine Cramer
CVS Health
(401) 770-3317

Christina Beckerman
CVS Health
(401) 770-8868