Skip to Main Content

The prescription market today is highly volatile, marked by an unprecedented level of drug price increases and a stream of new, expensive specialty drugs. In fact, the high cost of prescriptions is a commonly cited reason why patients do not take their medications as prescribed (i.e., non-adherence), a problem that costs the country nearly $300 billion and tens of thousands of lives annually.

CVS Health is committed to tackling this issue by ensuring patients get the right drug for the lowest cost, applying a variety of solutions to ultimately create value for stakeholders and improve health. One piece of this is leading and supporting research to reveal insights on how cost strategies can encourage patients to take their prescribed medications.

Insight #1: Starting patients on generic vs. brand name medications has adherence and health benefits

According to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, patients on cholesterol-lowering statins who started on a generic statin were more likely to be adherent to their medication than those starting on a branded drug. They also had an eight percent lower rate of cardiovascular events and death.

Insight #2: Eliminating medication copays reduces disparities and improves adherence

A study published in Health Affairs found that eliminating medication copays significantly improved medication adherence and health outcomes for non-white patients. The research, which focused on non-white patients following a heart attack, suggested that this approach may be an effective strategy for reducing commonly recognized disparities in cardiovascular care related to patient ethnicity and race.

Insight #3: Encouraging narrow pharmacy networks helps patients stay on their medication

Policies that incentivize patients to use specific pharmacies in their insurance network was associated with improved medication adherence in a JAMA Internal Medicine study. There was an even greater impact on adherence when 90-day prescription programs were also in place.

As the research suggests, addressing costs can help ensure access to quality care, which supports better health outcomes and continued medication adherence. Solving the question of how to improve quality and increase access to care, while lowering health care costs, is something CVS Health tackles every day with unique, integrated solutions to help people on their path to better health.