September 24, 2014
Lower Costs Improve Adherence, Outcomes With
Generic Statins

Boston—It all comes down to the relationship between costs and medication adherence, suggests a new study finding that patients taking generic statins had a significantly lower rate of cardiovascular disease and death.

The study, led by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, compared the medication adherence between generic versus brand-name statins and how much that affected health status. The results were published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Our study is the first to investigate whether generic versus brand-name statins play a direct role in improving health outcomes,” explained lead author Joshua J. Gagne, PharmD, ScD, of Brigham and Women’s. “Patients will only get the full clinical benefit of their medications if they take them, and our study found that patients are more likely to take generic statins than brand-name versions, which have a higher associated cost.”

For the study, the researchers employed electronic data from medical and pharmacy claims to focus on Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 years or older with prescription drug coverage between 2006 and 2008.

Participants included 90,111 patients who initiated a statin—83,731 (93%) starting a generic drug and 6,380 (7%) beginning a brand-name drug. Most, 61%, of the patients, whose age averaged 75.6 years, were female. The average proportion of days covered was 77% for patients in the generic group and 71% for those in the brand-name group.

Adherence to statin therapy was compared with outcomes, i.e., hospitalization for an acute coronary syndrome, stroke, and/or mortality.

According to the results, patients initiating generic statins were more likely to follow their drug regimens and, consequently, had an 8% lower rate of cardiovascular events and death.

“Generic drug use has been widely recognized to reduce patient out-of-pocket costs and payer spending. Among patients in our study, the mean copayment for the generic statin was $10 and $48 for brand-name statins,” Gagne explained. “Our finding that adherence is greater with generic statins is consistent with other studies that have shown a direct relation between higher copayments and lower adherence.”

The research was supported by Teva Pharmaceuticals.

U.S. Pharmacist Social Connect