Lupin 2023

Medication adherence is targeted by CVS Caremark

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WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark Corp. has launched a partnership to develop ways to encourage medication adherence.

The Behavior Change Research Partnership will help health care providers better understand why people choose to follow — or ignore — their prescribed medication regimen, and look for ways to encourage those patients to make more effective health care decisions.

The venture includes academic leaders from Carnegie Mellon University, Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business and the University of Pennsylvania’s medical school and Wharton School. The researchers will team with CVS Caremark to study the issues through the lens of behavioral economics and social marketing.

Nonadherence to essential chronic medications is widely recognized as a leading barrier to improving public health and a cause of increasing medical costs. Past studies show one-quarter of people receiving prescriptions never fill their first prescription, and patients with such chronic diseases as diabetes and coronary artery disease adhere to their ongoing medication regimen about half of the time.

Nonadherence to essential medications is a frequent cause of preventable hospitalizations and patient illness, with costs to the U.S. health care system estimated at about $300 billion annually. The partnership will study why people who go to the doctor often choose not to fill their initial prescriptions or prematurely stop taking them during treatment and recovery.

It will also seek to better understand why consumers may choose to buy more expensive branded drugs when they have access to generic medications that may provide identical or similar outcomes.

“This partnership represents another step in our effort to learn more about how we can help patients understand that effective pharmacy care can impact overall medical costs,” says CVS Caremark executive vice president and chief medical officer Dr. Troyen Brennan. “While we know there are many reasons people stop taking their medicine — cost, forgetfulness, side effects and others — this research will help us counsel consumers to make the right decision regarding their health.”

The partnership will be led by George Lowenstein of Carnegie Mellon, Punam Anand Keller of the Tuck school, and Kevin Volpp of Penn’s medical school and Wharton.

Behavioral economics and social marketing are growing bodies of science that look at how environment and other factors prompt personal decisions. In this case, the purpose of the research will be to discover ways to make it easier for consumers to make choices that are beneficial to their health.

Among the matters to be studied by the partnership are how appropriate financial incentives — in the form of lower co-pays and immediate up-front rewards — motivate consumer decisions to help improve health care behavior.

Researchers will also determine how educational materials and programs targeting consumers can be applied to persuade positive behavior that will affect meaningful change.


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