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New Study Finds Patient Adherence to Statin Medications Reduces Hospitalizations and Healthcare Costs

FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J., June 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Patients with high cholesterol who regularly take their cholesterol-lowering medications have significantly fewer hospitalizations from cardiovascular problems and can reduce their health care costs by as much as $944 over 18 months, according to research published in the June 1 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.


The study conducted by the Medco Research Institute®, the research subsidiary of Medco Health Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MHS), examined the financial impact of patient adherence to statins -- medications that help reduce high cholesterol levels.  Statins include such blockbuster drugs as Lipitor® (atorvastatin calcium) and Crestor® (rosuvastatin calcium), as well as widely used generics such as simvastatin and pravastatin.

The study found that the adherent patient group had significantly lower odds of cardiovascular-related hospitalizations compared to the non-adherent group.  Health care costs for patients who were least compliant with their medications were nine percent higher than the patients who followed their prescribed treatment regimen.  Those who took their statins regularly had higher drug costs that were offset by lower medical costs leading to lower total healthcare costs.

"It's important for patients to understand that taking statins as prescribed does more than simply lower cholesterol – they help lower the patient's risk of heart attack and stroke.  And now, as this study suggests, their health costs could be lower, too," said JoAnne Foody, M.D., a co-author of the study and Medical Director of the Cardiovascular Wellness Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital.  As health care providers, we must engage our patients about the importance of medication adherence."

"In this study, we found that nearly one in three patients had poor adherence to their statin therapy, something that patients and their physicians can work together to improve, and potentially save the health care system billions of dollars annually," added Donald Pittman, PharmD, study lead author and National Practice Leader for the Medco Cardiovascular Therapeutic Resource Center®.  "Medco's cardiovascular specialist pharmacists speak with patients every day and hear the very common reasons for non-adherence: lack of symptoms associated with high cholesterol, side-effects of the medications, and cost.  Fortunately, these are issues we can address by working with patients, and their physicians, to improve adherence to statins and other cardiovascular medications."

Study Details

The study examined de-identified data from Medco's integrated pharmacy and medical claims for 381,000 patients aged 18 to 61 who received statin therapy between January 2007 and June 2009. The patient population had an average age of 53 and was 59 percent male. Co-morbidities in the study group included high blood pressure (52.1 percent), coronary artery disease (15.2 percent), diabetes (25.4 percent), and depression (8.6 percent).

Medical and pharmaceutical claims records were analyzed to determine the level of adherence for each patient.  While more than two-thirds of the patients were found to be adherent to their statin therapy, 17 percent were identified as moderately adherent and 15 percent were poorly adherent, taking their medication less than 60 percent of the time.  Patients who took their cholesterol medications 90 percent or more of the time had total health care costs of $10,162, compared with $11,106 for the group of patients who were poorly adherent – a difference of $944 over the 18-month study period.  The most adherent patients spent $3,523 on their medications versus $3,392 for the patients with an adherence rate less than 60 percent.  

For more information about this study, please visit

About Medco Research Institute

Medco Research Institute® is an evidence-based research organization focused solely on novel research, analytics and new discoveries that close the gap between scientific discovery and medical practice for improved patient outcomes and lower overall healthcare costs. More information about the Medco Research Institute's peer-reviewed research can be found at

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™ for more than 65 million members.

With more than 24,000 employees worldwide dedicated to improving patient health and reducing costs for a wide range of public and private sector clients, and 2010 revenues of $66 billion, Medco ranks 34th on the 2011 Fortune 500 list and is named among the world's most innovative, most admired and most trustworthy companies. 

For more information, go to

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 are not historical facts, but rather are based on current expectations, estimates, assumptions and projections about the business and future financial results of the pharmacy benefit management ("PBM") and specialty pharmacy industries, and other legal, regulatory and economic developments.

SOURCE Medco Health Solutions, Inc.
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