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Increased Prescription Drug Co-pays Linked to Lower Medication Usage and Higher Hospitalization Rates, Thomson Medstat Study Finds

Study Tracks Impact of Increased Out-of-Pocket Cost for Cholesterol Medication

ANN ARBOR, Mich., February 27, 2007 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- As patients face higher out-of-pocket costs for cholesterol-lowering drugs, they are less likely to take their medicine and more likely to end up in the emergency room or a hospital bed. That's the conclusion of a new study from Thomson Medstat, a business of The Thomson Corporation .

The study is published in a special issue of The American Journal of Managed Care. Researchers analyzed the healthcare use, costs, and behaviors of more than 100,000 people who were prescribed statins, a common treatment for high cholesterol, from 2000 to 2003. They found that higher co-payments for statin medications made it less likely that patients would adhere to prescribed drug regimens - while lower adherence rates were associated with more hospitalizations and emergency room visits. In the two scenarios there was virtually no net effect on total direct medical costs.

Patients who adhered to their drug regimens had higher prescription drug expenditures, but - because they had fewer emergency-oriented episodes - their total healthcare costs were not significantly different from non-adherent patients. A $10 increase in co-payment was associated with an 8.9 percent decrease in the probability of adherence for new users of statin drugs and an 11.9 percent decrease in the probability of adherence for long-term statin users.

"This research finds that the money companies save by shifting more of the cost of cholesterol drugs to employees reduces adherence. While higher adherence may increase prescription drug expenditures, these costs are nullified by lower overall medical costs," said the study's lead author, Teresa Gibson, Ph.D., a research director at Thomson Medstat. "If indirect costs - such as absence from the job and short-term disability - were factored into the equation, employers would benefit even more in the long-run by reducing statin co-pays to maintain adherence."

About the Study

The study, funded by Pfizer, Inc., is based on an analysis of medical claims data from the Medstat MarketScan Research Databases, which represent the healthcare experience of more than 20 million individuals with employer- sponsored health insurance. For this study, researchers conducted a retrospective analysis of medical claims data for 24,113 newly prescribed statin users and 93,253 continuing statin users. The study is posted at the American Journal of Managed Care Web site (

The Thomson Corporation and Thomson Medstat

The Thomson Corporation ( is a global leader in providing essential electronic workflow solutions to business and professional customers. With operational headquarters in Stamford, Conn., Thomson provides value-added information, software tools and applications to professionals in the fields of law, tax, accounting, financial services, scientific research and healthcare. The Corporation's common shares are listed on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges . Thomson Medstat ( solutions - including business intelligence and benchmark databases, decision support solutions, and research services - help employers, government agencies, health plans, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies manage the cost and quality of healthcare.

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Posted: February 2007