New PhRMA Paper Shows Value of Medicines in our Health Care System

New PhRMA Paper Shows Value of Medicines in our Health Care System

03.02.12 | By Greg Lopes

We have always espoused the view that good adherence to prescription medicines can improve health outcomes, help control health care costs, and improve patients' lives. Here at PhRMA, we pay close attention to the literature that supports this belief. But because not everybody can monitor each and every study as closely as we can, we thought it would be a good idea to summarize some of the research and present it in a new paper: "Medicines Play a Key Role in Improving Health While Reducing Avoidable Costs."

The paper includes research showing that Medicare Part D has increased beneficiaries' access to medicines, and thereby brought down overall non-drug Medicare costs by preventing hospitalizations and other costly medical care.

We also delve into research that shows prescription medicines are helping to improve health outcomes. For example, research shows that diabetes patients who take their medicines as prescribed are significantly less likely to visit the emergency room or be hospitalized.

The paper points out that nearly 26 million children and adults have diabetes, including 7 million who are undiagnosed. In 2007, the economic cost of diabetes was $174 billion and researchers estimate that one out of every five health care dollars is spent treating patients with diagnosed diabetes. There is mounting evidence that appropriate treatment with medicine avoids the kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, stroke, and amputations that can stem from failure to properly manage this condition.

According to a 2010 National Bureau of Economic Research report, the hospitalization rate and the number of days spent in the hospital were 23 percent and 24 percent lower, respectively, for patients who took their medicines. Annual spending on prescription medicines was $776 higher per adherent patient, but each patient saved $886 in averted hospital costs, for a net savings of $110 per diabetic patient per year.

So, the research shows that patients who took their medicines as directed experienced better health outcomes, at a lower cost. This is the type of data - and more - you can find in this paper.

Of course, at the end of the day, what's more important than money saved is the real benefit to patients - staying out of the hospital, avoiding complications, and staying healthier and stronger.

We encourage you to take a look and gain an understanding the role that medicines are playing in our health care system and how vital they can be in people's lives.

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