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Medco Reforming Healthcare with 'Smarter Medicine'; Wired, Transformational Pharmacy Model Advances Clinical Quality and Lowers Cost

NEW YORK, Nov. 20 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Medco Health Solutions, Inc (NYSE: MHS) is today contributing to a transformation in American healthcare through an advanced, wired pharmacy paradigm that is already delivering higher quality clinical care and fundamentally bending the cost curve downward -- making medicine smarter for the benefit of patients and payors alike.

The company today explained how the elements in its strategy enable "Smarter Medicine" to help address the estimated $350 billion in waste related to the treatment of patients with chronic and complex diseases -- patients who currently account for 96 percent of all drug costs and 75 percent of all medical spending in the United States.

"Our clients are not waiting for healthcare reform. They're aggressively seeking solutions that can be immediately implemented," Medco Chairman and CEO David B. Snow Jr. told those attending the company's annual investor conference. "Medco innovations have created a superior clinical model that is proven to deliver value today in managing the debilitating human and financial costs associated with chronic and complex diseases. The market has responded by awarding our company more than $21 billion in new business over the past two years as we leverage the practice of pharmacy as a tool to improve quality and eliminate inefficiency across the healthcare system."

Medco's patient-centric clinical model includes: pharmacists who are specialized by therapeutic condition to counsel patients and coordinate care; computer-assisted evidence-based protocols to identify gaps in care that should be closed; advanced dispensing pharmacies to improve the accuracy and safety of dispensed prescriptions; tools and incentives that encourage members to make better choices and make it easier for them to follow their doctors' instructions; offerings that comprise a seamless continuum of care from over-the-counter products to prescription drugs to specialty and biotech medicines; and powerful and flexible plan management solutions that help Medco clients design the most efficient benefit programs.

Medco executives detailed the elements of their clinical strategy to "make medicine smarter":

  • Medco Therapeutic Resource Centers®, staffed by specially trained pharmacists, who thus far in 2009 have identified and closed more than 70,000 gaps in care, and increasing medication compliance -- which could save payors $500 million in avoided costs of complications.
  • Leveraging the wired pharmacy environment by measuring the performance and success of providers across the healthcare system, including pharmacies and physicians -- driving accountability by identifying gaps in care, and creating the ability to close those gaps by state, region, pharmacy chain or individual provider.
  • Empowering patient-engagement tools to encourage behaviors that drive the use of lower cost generics and more efficient delivery channels to record high levels, virtually eliminating drug-related cost increases for many of its clients, while reducing patient co-payments.
  • Speeding the transfer of critical knowledge from research discovery to mainstream medical practice through the newly formed Medco Research Institute(TM) and Medco's collaborations with the Mayo Clinic, LabCorp, Harvard University, Indiana University School of Medicine and the FDA, among other leading research institutions.
  • Building the most comprehensive pharmacy safety net to avert dangerous interactions between prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and supplements -- addressing the fact that 68 percent of patients regularly taking prescription drugs are also using an OTC product.
  • Forging the future of personalized medicine as a leader in research that will leverage the power of genetic tests to help physicians ensure they are prescribing the most effective medicines in the optimal doses based on their patient's unique genotype.
  • Exporting Smarter Medicine -- transcending geographic, political and regional healthcare conventions -- initiatives in the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden are helping to enhance the quality of care for patients worldwide.

"Making medicine smarter is more than a marketing message. It is delivering today on the commitment to clinical excellence, improved patient outcomes and lower healthcare costs that comes from our significant investments in innovation and execution across our entire organization," said Kenny Klepper, Medco president and chief operating officer. "We have built a capability over the past four years that is cutting-edge and difficult to replicate."

Providing a glimpse into the future of pharmacy, Medco demonstrated its leadership moving from "shotgun medicine to precision medicine" through the use of rapid drug research and gene-based testing.

"Precision medicine is smarter medicine," Snow said. "A wired system is key to reforming healthcare and our pharmacy today is 100 percent wired."

As an example demonstrating the power of a wired pharmacy, Medco noted that its research published late in 2008 drew a correlation between the use of certain heartburn medicines in tandem with the widely used anti-clotting agent Plavix® (clopidogrel bisulfate). That often-prescribed combination counteracted the protective effects of Plavix and elevated the potential risk for stroke and other negative cardiovascular events. The Food and Drug Administration, in part based on the Medco research, ordered stronger medication labels on prescription-strength drugs, and earlier this week issued a public health advisory warning consumers of the potentially dangerous interaction between Plavix and certain heartburn medicines, including some OTC versions.

"While it's important to have a wired system that recognizes these critical safety issues -- it's vital to put this potentially life-saving information into pharmacy practice," said Dr. Robert Epstein, Medco chief medical officer. "Medco's wired pharmacy, which immediately placed warnings into the systems that protect our patients, reduced the use of those medicines in combination by about 30 percent."

Medco has recently been recognized by the publication Pharmacogenomics Reporter as "the go-to organization for diagnostics developers looking to gather data on whether their pharmacogenetic tests improve patient outcomes," noting its trailblazing research -- and published clinical findings -- enabled by the use of gene-based tests.

Snow concluded: "Therapeutic Resource Centers, our pharmacogenomic initiatives and our market-based innovations are driving medicine to a smarter place. The future of pharmacy is here, and it's defining and reforming healthcare -- to the benefit of patients, payors and our society."

About Medco

Medco Health Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MHS) is pioneering the world's most advanced pharmacy® and its clinical research and innovations are part of Medco making medicine smarter(TM) for more than 60 million members.

With more than 20,000 employees dedicated to improving patient health and reducing costs for a wide range of public and private sector clients, and 2008 revenue exceeding $51 billion, Medco ranks 45th on the Fortune 500 list and is named among the world's most innovative, most admired and most trustworthy companies.

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This press release contains "forward-looking statements" as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements involve risks and uncertainties that may cause results to differ materially from those set forth in the statements. No forward-looking statement can be guaranteed, and actual results may differ materially from those projected. We undertake no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Forward-looking statements in this press release should be evaluated together with the risks and uncertainties that affect our business, particularly those mentioned in the Risk Factors section of the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K and Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

SOURCE Medco Health Solutions, Inc.

SOURCE Medco Health Solutions, Inc.
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