We could save $20 billion in medical costs by improving medication adherence and generic drug use in the United States.
That’s the finding of CVS Caremark’s 2013 State of the States: Medication Adherence Report.
The CVS Caremark report adds to a fairly convincing body of evidence on this subject. The New England Healthcare Institute, for example, has found that medication nonadherence in the United States already accounts for up to $290 billion annually in excess healthcare costs.
I believe it doesn’t have to be this way, and this study is just another data point that shows the dollar impact of pharmacist in a patient counseling role. The CVS Caremark Pharmacy Advisor counseling program has been shown to increase adherence rates up to 3.9% and return $3 in savings for every $1 on counseling.
I think we have to remember that pharmacists are best deployed as knowledge workers and part of the healthcare team. The primary role of the pharmacist is to provide patient care; and, when a pharmacist is directly involved in patient care, outcomes are improved for the patient. In addition, pharmacists should be empowered and required to be part of the financial management of the health system. This will help eliminate unnecessary drug spend and allow both patients and payers to take advantage of savings opportunities.