Generic Statins Show Improved Adherence, Outcomes

A new study by researchers at CVS Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, is the first to investigate whether starting on a generic versus a brand-name drug for the treatment of high cholesterol is associated with improved health outcomes. The analysis found that patients who took a generic statin were more likely to be adherent to their medication than those starting on a branded drug, and had an eight percent lower rate of the composite endpoint of cardiovascular events and death. The researchers reviewed medical and pharmacy claims for more than 90,000 Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 years and older, with prescription drug coverage between 2006 and 2008. Among patients in the study, the mean co-payment for a generic statin was $10 compared to $48 for a branded statin. The main outcome measures of the study were adherence to statin therapy and health outcomes as determined by tracking hospitalizations for acute coronary syndromes or stroke and death. "We know that medication non-adherence is complex and very personal and that there are many reasons patients fail to adhere to therapy,” said William H. Shrank, MD, MSHS, senior vice president and Chief Scientific Officer of CVS Health, and the study’s senior author. “Drug cost is one important factor. This study provides clear evidence that the use of lower cost generic medications, when appropriate, not only reduces cost for the patient and improves adherence, but also improves health and reduces mortality." 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. This analysis is part of a multi-year research collaboration with Brigham and Women’s Hospital to better understand patient behavior, particularly around medication adherence