ST. LOUIS, April 6, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. can eliminate 33 percent of its annual pharmacy-related waste simply by activating patients' good intentions to improve common behaviors linked to their prescription drugs, according to a groundbreaking research report released today. In a break with traditional views on pharmacy care, the Express Scripts 2010 Drug Trend Report shows a significant gap between patients' intentions and their actions, and recommends behavior-based solutions to bridge the difference.
The report includes results from a Harris Interactive study, commissioned by Express Scripts (Nasdaq: ESRX), that confirms the gap between what patients intend and what they do. The study found that 82 percent of patients who use brand-name medications actually prefer generics. Similarly, 70 percent of those using a retail pharmacy to fill medications for chronic conditions prefer to use a home delivery pharmacy, given the financial incentives for home delivery that are common to many plans.
If all patients consistently used generics, low-cost brands, and home delivery when available and appropriate, and adhered to their medication therapy, the nation could cut as much as $403 billion a year in unnecessary spending, the report states. However, a third of the total waste -- $134 billion -- can be eliminated simply by making it easy for patients to act on their existing good intentions. This is equivalent to saving $434 per year for every man, woman and child in America.
"Don't let behavior fool you," said Bob Nease, PhD, chief scientist at Express Scripts. "Patients' behavior is often misleading and doesn't represent their underlying intention. Our research and experience show that most patients, when presented with a choice, make decisions that lower costs and improve their health -- decisions that also are in the plan sponsor's best interest."
"These findings reframe conventional thinking. The disparity in healthcare is not between what plan sponsors want and what patients want, but between what patients want and what they actually do. Optimal healthcare outcomes are possible only with an advanced understanding of behavior."
James Klein, president of the American Benefits Council, said the report has significant implications for employer-sponsored healthcare.
"Activating consumer intent is a win-win for employers and employees," he said. "Engaging tools that help people make decisions will lead to more cost-effective quality outcomes, which is essential to health system reform."
Express Scripts, a recognized leader in the application of the behavioral sciences to healthcare, recently opened its Research & New Solutions Lab in St. Louis. At the Lab, researchers mine data to understand why patients make the decisions they do, how they interact with their drug therapies, and what practical solutions will improve health and lower costs while preserving patient choice.
The Drug Trend Report also quantifies changes in drug trend on a year-to-year basis, using Express Scripts claims data.
Overall, drug trend in the U.S. increased 3.6 percent, down from 6.4 percent in 2009. Trend for traditional medications fell by more than half, while specialty-drug trend continued its rapid growth with a 19.6 percent increase. Specialty trend has had double-digit growth every year since 2004, when Express Scripts began tracking it separately from traditional trend.
Other notable trends from 2010 include 12.5 percent trend growth among diabetes drugs, which are poised to become the single largest driver of trend in the next several years. Meanwhile, ulcer disease drug spend dropped 13.7 percent as an increasing number of generics and over-the-counter options joined the class.
Express Scripts, Inc., one of the largest pharmacy benefit management companies in North America, is leading the way toward creating better health and value for patients through Consumerology®, the advanced application of the behavioral sciences to healthcare. This approach is helping millions of members realize greater healthcare outcomes and lowering cost by assisting in influencing their behavior. Headquartered in St. Louis, Express Scripts provides integrated PBM services including network-pharmacy claims processing, home delivery services, specialty benefit management, benefit-design consultation, drug-utilization review, formulary management, and medical and drug data analysis services. The company also distributes a full range of biopharmaceutical products and provides extensive cost-management and patient-care services. More information can be found at http://www.express-scripts.com/pressroom/ and http://www.consumerology.com/.