Cut co-pays, sell more drugs?

You'd have to be one of the Three Stooges to disagree with the following statement: If you pay less for drugs, you're more likely to keep taking them. Duh, right? But actually, the issue of out-of-pocket expenses and their effects on health outcomes has been hugely controversial since the 1970s. Now, a new pharma-funded study shows that lower copays equals higher adherence to drug regimens. Which is hardly a surprise, considering the (funding) source.

First, the study results. When one company lowered its copays for drugs used to combat chronic disease, patients with heart disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol kept taking the drugs they needed. There was a small, but statistically insignificant, increase in adherence among asthma patients.

The implications? That by spending some money up front on drugs for chronic diseases, companies might save in the long run on complications. And with healthcare costs such a huge issue now, proof of that sort of long-term benefit might actually boost prescription drug use. Because common sense isn't enough these days. You got to have data.

- here's the release
- read the article from Forbes
- see the study abstract
- here's the item from The Wall Street Journal Health Blog