Published Online: Monday, January 1, 2007

According to 2 recent studies from Prime Therapeutics, patients are more likely to continue on their prescribed drug therapies if their insurance copays are lower. The studies showed that pharmacy benefit designs that encouraged the use of low-cost generic medicines can have a considerable impact on helping members stay on track with taking their medications. As a result, improved medication compliance leads to healthier outcomes for patients and therefore reduced overall health plan costs.

The studies looked at the relationship between medication use and pharmacy benefit design. They found that lower member costs were associated with a notable improvement in medication-use persistency, as measured by how many times prescriptions were refilled, over a 6-month period. For example, patients with $10 copays were 13% more likely to remain on their therapies, compared with patients with $25 copays. Those with copays of only $1 or no copay were 21% more likely than those who had to pay $25.

"These are important findings for health plans, employer groups, and their members," said Patrick Gleason, PharmD, director of medical and pharmacy integration services for Prime. "Staying on maintenance medications helps keep members healthy."

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