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Prescription drugs may be expensive, but think of them as a good investment. This message brought to you by CVS Caremark.

January 06, 2011|By Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times
  • Prescription drugs, even expensive ones, are a good investment, according to new research from ... CVS Caremark.
Prescription drugs, even expensive ones, are a good investment, according… (William Thomas Cain/Getty…)

Those prescription drugs can be so gosh-darn expensive, but if you don’t buy them, you’ll just wind up paying more in medical bills down the road.

So says a new study published Thursday in the journal Health Affairs. It says that people with four common chronic illnesses saved themselves – and the healthcare system – big bucks by taking their meds instead of skipping them.

The study was funded by … CVS Caremark, which bills itself as “the largest pharmacy healthcare provider in the United States.” In addition, three of the study’s authors either are or were high-level employees of CVS Caremark. (The fourth is a health insurance specialist at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Baltimore.) How convenient.

But a conflict of interest doesn’t necessarily mean the study results are useless. According to the company, the findings are based on an analysis of 135,000 patients with congestive heart failure, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. The study found that people who took their meds made fewer visits to the emergency room and spent fewer days in the hospital. Specifically, the researchers calculated that:

  • Patients with congestive heart failure who took all their prescribed drugs saved $7,832 per year compared with those who didn’t.
  • Patients with diabetes saved $3,756 by taking all of their meds.
  • Patients with high blood pressure saved $3,908 when they filled all their prescriptions.
  • Patients with high cholesterol saved $1,258 when they got the full benefit of pharmaceuticals.
The study concludes:

“Our findings indicate that programs to improve medication adherence are worth consideration by insurers, government payers, and patients, as long as intervention costs do not exceed the estimated health care cost savings.”

You can read it here.

RELATED: Canada lists the top prescription drugs Americans buy online

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