Multiple Sclerosis Program Improves Drug Adherence

Also associated with lower non-pharmacy costs; however, total costs increase over time
By Beth Gilbert
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- A specialty care management program for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients may improve medication compliance and reduce both MS-related hospitalizations and MS-related medical costs, though total costs may still increase over time, according to research published in the August issue of Multiple Sclerosis.

In a retrospective cohort analysis, Hiangkiat Tan, of HealthCore Inc. in Wilmington, Del., and colleagues evaluated patients 18 years of age and older with at least two claims of MS diagnosis and one or more MS medications from Jan. 1, 2004, to April 30, 2008, to assess the clinical and economic impact of a specialty care management program. Of 3,993 identified patients, 78.3 percent took part in the program.

The researchers found that medication adherence and persistence improved among program participants and decreased among non-participants over one year. In addition, MS-related hospitalization decreased for program participants (9.6 to 7.1 percent), but increased for non-participants (10.1 to 12.0 percent). Over the 12-month period, average MS-related medical costs (non-pharmacy) fell $264 among program participants but rose by $1,536 among non-participants. However, total costs (including pharmacy expenditures) increased among both participants and non-participants ($4,471 versus $4,087).

"This program was associated with improved medication adherence and persistence, reduced MS-related hospitalization, and decreased MS-related medical costs. Unfortunately, the cost savings in the medical component did not offset the increased pharmacy expenditures during the 12-month follow-up period," the authors write.

Three authors disclosed being employees of HealthCore Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of WellPoint, which funded the study.

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