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MS patients more compliant with medications when managed by specialty pharmacy

ORLANDO, Fla.May 19, 2009Multiple sclerosis patients managed by a specialty pharmacy program were more compliant with medication, and had a lower risk of being hospitalized for their disease than those who were not managed by a specialty pharmacy program, according to a study completed by HealthCore, Inc.

HealthCore researcher Jingbo Yu presented the study today at the International Society of Pharmacoeconomic and Outcomes Research 14th Annual International Meeting in Orlando, Fla. The retrospective study analyzed medical and pharmacy claims data.

The HealthCore study compared 3,055 patients managed by PrecisionRx Specialty Solutions to 807 patients who were not part of a specialty pharmacy-managed group over a period of one year. PrecisionRx provided patient education materials, regularly scheduled nurse calls and refill reminders to its members.

The study showed that those in the managed group had a 47 percent lower risk of being hospitalized to treat conditions associated with MS compared to the non-managed group.

Average overall MS-related total cost of care for one year was $20,105 for the managed group versus $16,857 for the non-managed group. The difference was driven by improved persistence with medications. Over time, the average MS-related medical cost decreased $270 among the managed patients, while it increased $1,245 among the un-managed group.

The study showed that the overall cost of care among the group managed by PrecisionRx Specialty Solutions, a subsidiary of WellPoint Inc., was higher because these members adhered better to their MS medication, which is costly. Reduced short-term disability costs, improved presenteeism and productivity were not directly assessed in the study, but likely are significant due to the significantly decreased utilization of medical services.

"Outcomes are clearly better for patients when they receive more sophisticated support and education that is encouraging them to stay compliant with their medication," said Dr. Joseph Singer, vice president of clinical affairs for HealthCore, the research outcomes subsidiary for WellPoint Inc. "It's well-documented that these drugs keep patients healthier and functioning at a higher level for a much longer period of time than if they weren't taking these drugs, despite their common side effects."

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic and progressive inflammatory disease of the central nervous system that affects about 400,000 people in the United States. The medications currently available to treat MS are effective in reducing relapses but are associated with side effects that reduce their tolerability. Those patients managed by PrecisionRx achieved a length of continuous therapy over 290 days compared to 209 days by the non-managed group, which was statistically and clinically significant.

"Because MS drugs have significant side effects, the regularly scheduled nurse calls-at three, six and then 12 months, can make a huge difference in how that member continues with therapy," said Tracy Nolan, vice president of PrecisionRx Specialty Solutions. "We develop relationships with members that open the door to them sharing with us issues they may have in being compliant. By knowing what those problems are, we can often help them figure out a solution."


Contact: Lori McLaughlin

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