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Lower Copayments and Use of Mail-Order Pharmacy may Reduce Disparities in Adherence to Blood-Pressure Medication
Date:12/10/2012

OAKLAND, Calif., Dec. 10, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- New research suggests that making prescription refills more affordable and easier to get may reduce disparities among hypertension patients.

An analysis of more than 44,000 patients recently diagnosed with high blood pressure in Kaiser Permanente Northern California identified important differences in medicine-taking behaviors among racial and ethnic groups. Lower copayments and the use of mail-order pharmacy increased refills of blood-pressure medicine, and these factors were associated with reduced disparities.

Kaiser Permanente scientists published the retrospective study on adherence to medications prescribed for high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, in the Dec. 10 online edition of Archives of Internal Medicine.

"The differences that we found occur early on, after a patient has been diagnosed with hypertension," explained Alyce S. Adams, PhD, research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and lead author of the study. "In fact, as early as the first refill, some patients are forgoing their hypertension medication."

Hypertension is a major risk factor for heart disease, and even modest reductions in blood pressure are associated with significant reductions in heart attacks, strokes and deaths related to cardiovascular disease. Its impact is devastating to communities of color, particularly among blacks, where males have the highest hypertension death rates of any other racial, ethnic, or gender group. This is attributable in part to significantly lower control rates as compared to whites, according to a 2010 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the CDC, only about 54 percent of people diagnosed with hypertension nationally have it under control. Kaiser Permanente Northern California has become a national model for hypertension
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SOURCE Kaiser Permanente
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