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Carroll School of Management

Larry J. Merlo

President and Chief Executive Officer
CVS Caremark

Excerpt from remarks to Boston College’s Chief Executives’ Club of Boston 

June 5, 2012

TAKEAWAY: Prescription Non-adherence

And today, chronic disease in this country accounts for three of every four dollars spent on health care. That’s nearly $7,900 per year for every American with a chronic disease. And this is where the statistics really begin to get even more alarming, because one in three patients who start a maintenance prescription will decide to discontinue treatment before their first refill is even due. Fewer than one-half of patients take their doses as prescribed, and three out of four people will stop taking their medication within the first year of beginning therapy.

Now these statistics frame a big piece of what we’re struggling with in health care today. In fact, I know many of you are familiar with a statistic from the New England Health Institute that cites the cost of prescription non-adherence to be a 300 billion—not million—300 billion problem per year, in terms of complications and preventable hospital admissions. And this does not include the costs associated with the 1.1 million people that may die prematurely as a result of the significant health problems related to not taking their medications.

So non-adherence is driving unnecessary medical costs across our health care system.