CVS Health Research Institute Study Demonstrates Impact of Prescription Refill Programs on Medication Adherence


New research by the CVS Health Research Institute is the first to show the impact of prescription refill programs on medication adherence.


WOONSOCKET, R.I., November 16, 2015 — New research by the CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) Research Institute is the first to show the impact of prescription refill programs on medication adherence. The study, published in the American Journal of Managed Care, found that ReadyFill


, the refill program available at CVS/pharmacy


, improved adherence to medications for common chronic conditions without contributing to an oversupply of medication.

“Medication adherence is a complex public health challenge, and our ongoing research in this area has identified many reasons why people don’t always take their medications as prescribed by their doctor,” said William H. Shrank, MD, MSHS, senior vice president and Chief Scientific Officer, CVS Health. “At CVS Health, we are pleased to show that our prescription refill program is helping to address one challenge of medication adherence by making the prescription refill process easier and more convenient without contributing to drug oversupply, which is a common concern with these types of programs.”

The study found that patients who chose to enroll in the refill program offered by CVS/pharmacy had significantly greater medication adherence. In fact, those enrolled in the program receiving 30-day supplies of medication had a Medication Possession Ratio (MPR), a measurement for medication adherence, that was three points higher than the control group. For those patients receiving 90-day supplies of chronic medications, their MPR was 1.4 points higher than the control group. In addition, those enrolled in the refill program who received 30-day fills had 2.5 fewer days of oversupply than those in the control group, and those receiving 90-day fills had 2.18 fewer days of oversupply.

“We created the ReadyFill program to help encourage adherence by providing customers with easy access to an appropriate and adequate medication supply,” added Joshua M. Flum, executive vice president of Pharmacy Services, CVS Health. “At CVS Health, we are committed to helping more people start and stay on their prescriptions every day, and ReadyFill is just one of several adherence services that we offer to help improve health outcomes and reduce total health care costs.”

The study evaluated integrated data of more than 250,000 CVS/caremark members who filled 30- or 90-day prescriptions for at least one of 11 common chronic conditions at a CVS/pharmacy. The researchers compared MPR and average days of excess medication on hand at the time of refill for a sample of members who chose to enroll in the CVS/pharmacy refill program to a control sample that filled prescriptions using traditional methods.

CVS Health launched ReadyFill in 2009. The program coordinates refills for eligible maintenance prescriptions to save customers time and help them stay on track with their medications without contributing to prescription oversupply. Those who choose to enroll in the program receive reminder messages when their prescription is ready to be picked up. Concerns had previously been raised about the potential of these programs to produce drug waste by reducing a patient’s involvement in the dispensing process, which could result in unnecessary health care spending.

Medication adherence is a major public health issue that costs the health care system nearly $300 billion each year. Approximately 50 percent of American adults are prescribed a maintenance medication for a chronic disease such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Yet many patients do not adhere to their prescribed therapies. As a pharmacy innovation company, CVS Health is building a range of programs to meet the various challenges individual patients face when taking their medications. These include programs that help align prescription refills for patients with multiple maintenance medications, comprehensive medication reviews to help identify potential safety issues and adherence-improving interventions that can be delivered at the retail pharmacy, via digital tools and at the patient’s home.

The CVS Health Research Institute is focused on contributing to the body of scientific knowledge related to pharmacy and health care through research collaborations with external academic institutions, participation in federally funded research, analysis and sharing of CVS Health data sources and coordination of pilot programs and initiatives. CVS Health Research Institute findings support a continuous quality improvement environment, which encourages product innovation and development to benefit CVS Health patients, clients and their members.

For more detail on the data, please visit the following link:

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