Patients Without Co-Pays for Heart Medications More Likely to Take Them

According to research by Niteesh K. Choudhry, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor at Harvard University and associate physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2011, heart attack patients who got free medications had lower rates of rehospitalization for heart attack or heart failure compared to patients who had prescription co-pays.

Patients who paid nothing for their cholesterol-lowering and other medications shown to improve patient outcomes after a heart attack were 4% to 6% more likely to take them than the those who had co-pays.

Researchers found that 17.6% of those with free medications had a major cardiac event or underwent revascularization, compared to 18.8% of those with co-pays. This difference was not statistically significant, but when assessed separately from revascularization, there was a significant reduction in the rate of major cardiac events. After about a year, the rate of heart attacks, angina and heart failure dropped 14% in the patients getting free medications.

Furthermore, patients saved 26% on their overall out-of-pocket healthcare costs. Because they had improved health, they paid fewer copayments for doctor's visits in addition to the savings from no drug co-pays, researchers said.

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Source: Presented November 14 at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2011.