90-day Medication Supply From Community Pharmacies Drives Better Adherence While Minimizing Wastage And Reducing Medicaid Costs, Walgreens Study Shows

A new Walgreens (NYSE: WAG) (Nasdaq: WAG) study examining the impact of 90-day medication refills at community pharmacies compared to 30-day refills for Medicaid patients found that across four therapeutic categories, patients with 90-day refills had greater medication adherence and greater persistency, nominal wastage and more cost savings. The study, titled Medication Days’ Supply, Adherence, Wastage, and Cost Among Chronic Patients in Medicaid, was published in the 2012 Vol. 2 (3) issue of Medicare & Medicaid Research Review.

The study’s release comes as states throughout the U.S. have aimed to contain Medicaid pharmacy costs by placing dispensing limits on medication days’ supply (most have a limit of 34 days), in an effort to limit medication wastage. The results demonstrate that wastage can be nominal across the 30-day and 90-day channels, and that three-month fills at community pharmacies have the potential to significantly improve outcomes and lower costs among Medicaid patients. Many of these patients include those with chronic conditions who often face major socioeconomic challenges affecting their ability to remain adherent to medication therapies. Notably, almost half (45 percent) of Medicaid beneficiaries have three or more chronic illnesses, and this population accounts for 75 percent of total Medicare costs. 1

Compared to 30-day refills, patients with 90-day refills at community pharmacies showed:
  • 20 percent higher adherence
  • 23 percent higher persistency
  • A projected savings of $13.95 per patient per year, after removing wastage costs and adjusting for the effects of age, gender and comorbidity

“Our 90-day refill program at our community pharmacies is an innovative health care solution that can help lower costs and improve patient outcomes, and another way in which Walgreens is advancing community pharmacy to help people get, stay and live well,” said Jeffrey Kang, MD, Walgreens senior vice president of pharmacy, health and wellness services and solutions. “At the time of our study, only 13 states gave Medicaid patients the option to receive a 90-day medication supply. However, with the growing popularity and adoption of 90-day refills at community pharmacies, more and more Medicaid patients have an opportunity to benefit from face-to-face pharmacist interaction and the personalized care our pharmacists provide. Both patients and the health care system could benefit from reexamination of these broad state dispensing limitations.”

For the study, 52,898 patients prescribed to statin, antihypertensive, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) or oral hypoglycemic medications were identified using California Medicaid claims from the Walgreens pharmacy chain in January 2010. Adherence is a measurement of how often patients take their medications as prescribed, and persistency is the length of time patients continue taking their medications. Medication wastage is defined as a switch of drug or drug strength within the same therapeutic class that occurred before the expected refill date.

About Walgreens

As the nation's largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2012 sales of $72 billion, Walgreens ( www.walgreens.com) vision is to become America’s first choice for health and daily living. Each day, Walgreens provides nearly 6 million customers the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice in communities across America. Walgreens scope of pharmacy services includes retail, specialty, infusion, medical facility and mail service, along with respiratory services. These services improve health outcomes and lower costs for payers including employers, managed care organizations, health systems, pharmacy benefit managers and the public sector. The company operates 7,944 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Take Care Health Systems is a Walgreens subsidiary that is the largest and most comprehensive manager of worksite health and wellness centers and in-store convenient care clinics, with more than 700 locations throughout the country.

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1 Kronick, R. G., Bella, M., & Gilmer, T. P. (2009). The faces of Medicaid III: Refining the portrait of people with multiple chronic conditions Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc.

Copyright Business Wire 2010

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