Results from a new study, developed in collaboration between Walgreens and the University of Chicago, suggest that pharmacy interventions and benefit plan designs with low co-pays could be key factors in helping to improve adherence to statin medications for patients living in minority communities.
— August 3, 2016 – Results from a new study, developed in collaboration between Walgreens and the University of Chicago, suggest that pharmacy interventions and benefit plan designs with low co-pays could be key factors in helping to improve adherence to statin (cholesterol) medications for patients living in minority communities. In these predominantly African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods, better adherence was associated with several variables, including co-pays under $10, the use of 90-day refills and whether a patient had a health plan (or “payer”) other than Medicaid.
“Adherence to medications for chronic conditions such as high cholesterol is critical to the prevention of unnecessary hospitalizations and better heart health outcomes for patients,” said study co-author Michael Taitel, PhD, Walgreens senior director of health analytics, research and reporting.
“In addition, our study demonstrates that lower adherence in largely minority neighborhoods is a significant challenge, and suggests that community pharmacies can play a role in helping to address it. The data will be helpful for all stakeholders in developing, implementing and measuring programs and strategies designed to improve adherence among these patients — ultimately improving health outcomes while reducing costs for our health care system.”
The study, which was recently published in the peer-reviewed
Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities
, specifically compared adherence rates for more than 300,000 patients focusing on those filling new prescriptions for statin medications at Walgreens pharmacies in mostly minority communities, compared to those filling the same prescriptions at Walgreens in mainly Caucasian neighborhoods. In analyses adjusting for patient-level factors associated with poor adherence, including age, insurance, payer, prescription cost and convenience, patients residing in African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods had 2—3 weeks less statin therapy over a one-year time period – marking a significant difference.
Previous research has shown that the lower adherence to cardiovascular medications among African-American and Hispanic patients1-4
likely contributes to a persistent 7-year lower overall life expectancy relative to Caucasians.5-6
Notably, pharmacist interventions with patients at risk for low adherence across several medication classes including statins have been shown to improve adherence and lower health care costs.7
The study was authored by Dr. Michael Taitel and Jenny Jiang of Walgreens, Drs. Andrew Davis, Monica Peek, Chia-Hung Chou and Elbert Huang of the University of Chicago and Dr. Dima Qato of the University of Illinois College of Pharmacy.
To read the study, please visit