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CVS Caremark, Harvard and Brigham and Women's Researchers Say Medicare 'Donut Hole' Can Lead to a Decrease in Medication Adherence
Date:8/16/2011

WOONSOCKET, R.I., Aug. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Medicare Part D beneficiaries who enter the "donut hole," where they have to pay 100 percent of previously subsidized prescription costs, are twice as likely to discontinue  their medications as they are to switch to more affordable or generic medications, a new study published today in PLoS Medicine concludes.

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The study conducted by researchers from Harvard University, Brigham and Women's Hospital and CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS) examined prescription drug use among more than 660,000 Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in more than 200 Medicare Part D and retiree drug plans in 2006 and 2007. The researchers said: "The adverse clinical consequences of stopping or reducing adherence to essential medications can be both severe and costly. Our results indicate that beneficiaries faced with increased out-of-pocket cost burdens during the Part D coverage gap are twice as likely to discontinue their medications altogether, resulting in reduced medication adherence, rather than switch to more affordable or generic medications."

"Proponents of the donut hole argue the coverage gap benefits the health care system by making participants more sensitive to medication costs. There is an expectation that people will seek less expensive drug options when they enter the donut hole and that action will result in cost savings both for them and for their health plans," said Jennifer M. Polinski, ScD, MPH, of the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and lead author of the study. "However, our findings show that when beneficiaries have to bear the full financial burden of the cost of their medications, they are twice as likely to stop taking their medications altogether and become non-adherent
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SOURCE CVS Caremark
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