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CVS Caremark Developing New Ways to Help Patients Take Medications as Directed

WASHINGTON, May 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Researchers at Harvard University, Brigham and Women's Hospital and CVS Caremark today outlined their findings on the issue of medication adherence and made recommendations for how their research to date can be used to help improve the way pharmacy care is delivered in the U.S.  The research collaboration between these groups was announced in the fall of 2009 and was showcased today at a forum at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. marking the half-way point in the three-year-initiative.  


In addition to reviewing results to date, the research team leaders urged regulators and legislators to renew their focus on making sure people take their medications as directed by their physicians as a way to improve the quality of care and reduce costs for caring for the chronically ill.  Annual excess health care costs due to medication non-adherence in the U.S. have been estimated to be as much as $300 billion annually.

"When we began, we knew our research would expand the science of pharmacy care," said Troyen A. Brennan, MD, MPH executive vice president and chief medical officer of CVS Caremark, who heads the research initiative. "The more we studied the topic, the more we realized that there are steps our industry can take today to improve the rates at which people take their medicines. This is important work because we know if we can improve medication adherence rates, we have a unique opportunity to improve the quality and lower the cost of health care."

"Not surprisingly, we learned there is no single answer to solving the puzzle of adherence, even though this problem has been recognized for decades. But there are practices we can improve upon and programs we can implement that can have an impact. That work can start today," said William H. Shrank, MD, MSHS, who heads the research project for Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Among the recommendations called for by the research team are:

  • Developing tools through continued research that will allow pharmacists to predict and target those patients who are at risk for non-adherence and prescription abandonment so pharmacists can proactively intervene to improve their care.
  • Working with pharmacists and other health care providers to simplify pharmacy care for those with the most complex therapies by utilizing a "pharmacy home" concept where one health care professional works with the rest of the medical team to manage and synchronize a patient's medication therapy.
  • Improving pharmacist and health care provider communications with patients to enhance adherence through individualized counseling.
  • Researching the use of financial or other incentives to encourage adherence because immediate, positive reinforcement for the right behavior can be a powerful motivator to change behavior.
  • Developing a personalized medication approach, such as through pharmacogenomics or individualized counseling with pharmacists, to best deliver pharmacy care.
  • Studying social networks and connections to see how they can be utilized to improve medication use by individuals seeking help and advice from family and friends.

In addition, there are policy initiatives the industry and Congress can promote to make sure people are aware of the importance of taking their medicines the right way. Those proposals include:

  • Making the goal of improving medication adherence a national priority and encouraging  legislative policies to promote education and incent provider and patient behavior;
  • Leveraging investments in innovative technologies to make adherence simple; and
  • Supporting continued public/private partnerships to remove cost barriers and undesirable patient behavior.

A webcast of "Advancing Adherence and the Science of Pharmacy Care," a forum held today at the National Press Club, is available at

About CVS Caremark

CVS Caremark is the largest pharmacy health care provider in the United States with integrated offerings across the entire spectrum of pharmacy care. We are uniquely positioned to engage plan members in behaviors that improve their health and to lower overall health care costs for health plans, plan sponsors and their members. CVS Caremark is a market leader in mail order pharmacy, retail pharmacy, specialty pharmacy, and retail clinics, and is a leading provider of Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans. As one of the country's largest pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs), we provide access to a network of approximately 65,000 pharmacies, including more than 7,200 CVS/pharmacy® stores that provide unparalleled service and capabilities. Our clinical offerings include our signature Pharmacy Advisor™ program as well as innovative generic step therapy and genetic benefit management programs that promote more cost effective and healthier behaviors and improve health care outcomes. General information about CVS Caremark is available through the Company's website at

Media Contact:
Jon Sandberg
CVS Caremark
(401)770 4914

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