CVS Caremark-sponsored medication adherence initiative crosses the $500-million mark

PBM-sponsored program passes on its discounts from manufacturers

A prescription discount card program administered by CVS Caremark (Woonsocket, RI) for members of the National Assn. of Counties (NACo) has saved residents of 1,400 U.S. counties $500 million since the program’s inception in 2004.

The discounts, which were pre-negotiated by CVS, average about 24% per prescription, according to NACo. According to CVS, the drug list contains approximately 99% of all commonly prescribed medications. The discount applies only to participating county residents who either have no insurance or whose insurance does not provide coverage for a particular drug, including pet prescriptions. The discount card is accepted at all major chain pharmacies, as well as many independent pharmacies, says Jim Philipps, media relations manager for the association.

CVS says this non-exclusive program is one of the ways in which the company helps support medication adherence. “We recognize that medication adherence can positively affect an individual's overall health, while also helping to reduce overall healthcare costs," says Jon Roberts, president of the pharmacy benefit management (PBM) business of CVS Caremark. “The NACo Prescription Discount Card Program helps reduce the cost of medications — one of the most frequently cited barriers to taking medications as prescribed.”

The free program is available as a benefit to NACo’s 2,400 member counties (there are 3,033 counties nationwide), but only 1,400 counties have opted in so far, according to NACo. Participating counties can choose to distribute the cards to residents however they like, and NACo helps with publicity. One doesn’t think of county administrators as being central to a healthcare activity like medication adherence, but the program seems to serve to connect pharmacies more closely to the communities that they operate in.