Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

A recent study of the effect of copaymentson patient adherence to theirmedication regimens found that lowercopayments led to a statistically significantimprovement in patients taking theirheart-disease, diabetes, and high-cholesteroldrugs.

The 12-month study by researchers atHarvard and the University of Michiganand funded by GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizerinvestigated the impact on medicationadherence of reducing prescriptioncopayments for employees of a leadingservice industry company that alsooffered disease management programs.Copayment rates for generic medicationswere reduced from $5 to $0; copaymentsfor branded drugs were reduced by 50%.A similar employer with identical diseasemanagement offerings but stable copaymentsserved as the control group.

The difference in medication usebetween chronically ill patients at the 2companies was sizable—even though allthe employees in the study were alsoenrolled in special programs designed tohelp them take control of their diseases.Just by cutting a few dollars off the copay,the study suggests, employers couldincrease the chances that employeeswith chronic illnesses will take certainpreventive medicines.

"These results bolster the idea thathealth insurance benefits should bedesigned in ways that produce the mostper health care dollar spent," noted seniorstudy author Mark Fendrick, MD.

The study is published in theJanuary/February 2008 issue of HealthAffairs. For more, information, visitwww.med.umich.edu.