Prescription opioid misuse is a major public health issue in the United States. Since the late 1990s, sales of prescription opioids have risen 4-fold, and the rates of admissions for substance use treatment and of death from opioid overdose have grown proportionately.1 In response, training programs about the appropriate prescribing of opioid therapy have been developed, prescription monitoring programs implemented, and access to naloxone facilitated to reduce deaths among people who overdose. In general, these strategies focus on detecting and preventing harm in those who are already dependent on or misusing opioids. Although the impact of many of these programs is uncertain, the opioid epidemic continues to grow.
OBJECTIVES: The burden of visiting pharmacies to fill medications is a central contributor to nonadherence to maintenance medications.Recently, pharmacies have begun offering services that align prescription fill dates to allow patients to pick up all medications on a single visit. We evaluated the prevalence and structure of synchronization programs and evidence of their impact on adherence and clinical outcomes.STUDY DESIGN: Mixed-methods approach consisting of semistructured interviews, data from surveillance activities, and a systematic literature review. METHODS: We conducted interviews with opinion leaders from nonprofit advocacy organizations and exemplary synchronization programs. Program prevalence was determined using data from regular surveillance efforts. A literature review included Medline,EMBASE, Google Scholar, and general Internet searches.RESULTS: Synchronization programs exist in approximately 10%of independent, 6% of stand-alone chain, and 11% of retail store pharmacies. The majority of programs include a monthly pharmacist appointment and reminder communication. Programs reported the importance of pharmacist buy-in, technology to track and recruit patients, links to other healthcare services, and flexible solutions for managing costs and communication preferences.Although existing peer-reviewed literature suggests that synchronization improves adherence, more evidence is needed to evaluate its impact on patient-centered outcomes.CONCLUSIONS: As medication synchronization programs shift directions and compete for patients and payer resources, it will be more important than ever to rigorously evaluate their ability to improve clinical outcomes while also providing the growing number of patients managing multiple chronic conditions with the highest level of patient engagement and consumer choice.
DESCRIPTION: The discrepancy between health care spending and achieved outcomes in the United States has fueled efforts to identify and address situations where unnecessarily expensive therapies are used when less costly, equally effective options are available. The underuse of generic medications is an important example. METHODS: A literature review was conducted to answer 5 questions about generic medications: 1) How commonly are brand-name medications used when a generic version is available? 2) How does the use of generic medications influence adherence? 3) What is the evidence that brand-name and generic medications have similar clinical effects? 4) What are the barriers to increasing the use of generic medications? 5) What strategies can be used to promote cost savings through greater generic medication use? This article was reviewed and approved by the American College of Physicians Clinical Guidelines Committee. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE: Clinicians should prescribe generic medications, if possible, rather than more expensive brand-name medications.
BACKGROUND: Medicaid programs face growing pressure to control spending. Despite evidence of clinical harms, states continue to impose policies limiting the number of reimbursable prescriptions (caps). We examined the recent use of prescription caps by Medicaid programs and the impact of policy implementation on prescription utilization. METHODS: We identified Medicaid cap policies from 2001-2010. We classified caps as applying to all prescriptions (overall caps) or only branded prescriptions (brand caps). Using state-level, aggregate prescription data, we developed interrupted time-series analyses to evaluate the impact of implementing overall caps and brand caps in a subset of states with data available before and after cap initiation. For overall caps, we examined the use of essential medications, which were classified as preventive or as providing symptomatic benefit. For brand caps, we examined the use of all branded drugs as well as branded and generic medications among classes with available generic replacements. RESULTS: The number of states with caps increased from 12 in 2001 to 20 in 2010. Overall cap implementation (n = 3) led to a 0.52 % (p < 0.001) annual decrease in the proportion of essential prescriptions but no change in cost. For preventive essential medications, overall caps led to a 1.12 % (p = 0.001) annual decrease in prescriptions (246,000 prescriptions annually) and a 1.20 % (p < 0.001) decrease in spending (-$12.2 million annually), but no decrease in symptomatic essential medication use. Brand cap implementation (n = 6) led to an immediate 2.29 % (p = 0.16) decrease in branded prescriptions and 1.26 % (p = 0.025) decrease in spending. For medication classes with generic replacements, the decrease in branded prescriptions (0.74 %, p = 0.003) approximately equaled the increase in generics (0.79 %, p = 0.009), with estimated savings of $17.4 million. CONCLUSIONS: An increasing number of states are using prescription caps, with mixed results. Overall caps decreased the use of preventive but not symptomatic essential medications, suggesting that patients assign higher priority to agents providing symptomatic benefit when faced with reimbursement limits. Among medications with generic replacements, brand caps shifted usage from branded drugs to generics, with considerable savings. Future research should analyze the patient-level impact of these policies to measure clinical outcomes associated with these changes.
OBJECTIVE: Despite the proliferation of databases with increasingly rich patient data, prediction of medication adherence remains poor. We proposed and evaluated approaches for improved adherence prediction. DATA SOURCES: We identified Medicare beneficiaries who received prescription drug coverage through CVS Caremark and initiated a statin. STUDY DESIGN: A total of 643 variables were identified at baseline from prior claims and linked Census data. In addition, we identified three postbaseline predictors, indicators of adherence to statins during each of the first 3 months of follow-up. We estimated 10 models predicting subsequent adherence, using logistic regression and boosted logistic regression, a nonparametric data-mining technique. Models were also estimated within strata defined by the index days supply. RESULTS: In 77,703 statin initiators, prediction using baseline variables only was poor with maximum cross-validated C-statistics of 0.606 and 0.577 among patients with index supply 30 days, respectively. Using only indicators of initial statin adherence improved prediction accuracy substantially among patients with shorter initial dispensings (C = 0.827/0.518), and, when combined with investigator-specified variables, prediction accuracy was further improved (C = 0.842/0.596). CONCLUSIONS: Observed adherence immediately after initiation predicted future adherence for patients whose initial dispensings were relatively short.
BACKGROUND: Patient-physician communication often occurs outside the clinic setting; many institutions discourage electronic communication outside of established electronic health record systems. Little empirical data are available on patient interest in electronic communication and Web-based health tools that are technically feasible but not widely available. RESEARCH OBJECTIVE: To explore patient behavior and interest in using the Internet to contact physicians. DESIGN: National cross-sectional online survey. PARTICIPANTS: A sample of 4,510 CVS customers with at least one chronic condition in the household was used to target patients with chronic conditions and their caregivers. Subjects were identified from a national panel of over 100,000 retail pharmacy customers. Of those sampled, 2,252 responded (50.0 % response rate). MAIN MEASURES: Survey measures included demographic and health information, patient use of email and Facebook to contact physicians, and patient interest in and use of Web-based tools for health. KEY RESULTS: A total of 37 % of patients reported contacting their physicians via email within the last six months, and 18 % via Facebook. Older age was negatively associated with contacting physicians using email (OR 0.57 [95 % CI 0.41-0.78]) or Facebook (OR 0.28 [0.17-0.45]). Non-white race (OR 1.61 [1.18-2.18] and OR 1.82 [1.24-2.67]) and caregiver status (OR 1.58 [1.27-1.96] and OR 1.71 [1.31- 2.23]) were positively associated with using email and Facebook, respectively. Patients were interested in using Web-based tools to fill prescriptions, track their own health, and access health information (37-57 %), but few were currently doing so (4-8 %). CONCLUSIONS: In this population of retail pharmacy users, there is strong interest among patients in the use of email and Facebook to communicate with their physicians. The findings highlight the gap between patient interest for online communication and what physicians may currently provide. Improving and accelerating the adoption of secure Web messaging systems is a possible solution that addresses both institutional concerns and patient demand.
The potential of short message system (SMS) text messaging and other mobile-phone based methods (collectively often called "mHealth") to engage patients in their own health care has been met with great enthusiasm because of the relatively low cost, transportability, and widespread use of these technologies - more than six billion people worldwide have access to mobile phones.1 By providing reminders and enhancing communication and interaction with healthcare professionals, there is compelling evidence for patients with HIV/AIDS that mHealth can improve adherence to medications and suppress viral loads.2-4.
OBJECTIVES: Automatic prescription refill programs are a popular means of improving medication adherence. A concern is the potential for prescription drug wastage and unnecessary healthcare spending. We evaluated the impact of an automatic refill program on patterns of medication use. STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective propensity score matched cohort study with multivariable generalized linear modeling. METHODS: The setting of the study was a pharmacy benefit manager administering benefits for patients of retail pharmacies. Participants included patients on medication for chronic conditions; those receiving a 30-day supply (n = 153,964) and a 90-day supply (n = 100,394) were analyzed separately. The intervention was the automatic prescription refill program. Measures included medication possession ratio (MPR) and average days excess at the time of refill. The results are reported across 11 therapeutic classes. RESULTS: Overall, patients receiving 30-day supplies of medication in the automatic refill program had an MPR that was 3 points higher than those not in the refill program; among those receiving 90-day fills and in the refill program, the MPR was 1.4 points higher (P < .001 for both 30- and 90-day fills). The MPR was higher for members in the refill program across all therapeutic classes. Limiting our analysis to members receiving more than 365 days of medication, we found that patients who received 30-day fills and enrolled in the automatic refill program had 2.5 fewer days' oversupply than those in the control group, whereas automatic refill patients receiving 90-day supplies had 2.18 fewer days' oversupply than the controls (P < .001 for both 30- and 90-day fills). CONCLUSIONS: For this pharmacy provider, automatic refill programs result in improved adherence without adding to medication oversupply.
Background: Methods of estimating race/ethnicity using administrative data are increasingly used to examine and target disparities; however, there has been no validation of these methods using clinically relevant outcomes. Objective: To evaluate the validity of the indirect method of race/ethnicity identification based on place of residence and surname for assessing clinically relevant outcomes. Data Sources: A total of 2387 participants in the Post-MI Free Rx Event and Economic Evaluation (MI FREEE) trial who had both self-reported and Bayesian Improved Surname Geocoding method (BISG)-estimated race/ethnicity information available. Study Design: We used tests of interaction to compare differences in the effect of providing full drug coverage for post-MI medications on adherence and rates of major vascular events or revascularization for white and nonwhite patients based upon self-reported and indirect racial/ethnic assignment. Results: The impact of full coverage on clinical events differed substantially when based upon self-identified race (HR=0.97 for whites, HR=0.65 for nonwhites; interaction P-value=0.05); however, it did not differ among race/ethnicity groups classified using indirect methods (HR=0.87 for white and nonwhites; interaction P-value=0.83). The impact on adherence was the same for self-reported and BISG-estimated race/ethnicity for 2 of the 3 medication classes studied. Conclusions: Quantitatively and qualitatively different results were obtained when indirectly estimated race/ethnicity was used, suggesting that these techniques may not accurately describe aspects of race/ethnicity related to actual health behaviors.
Objectives: Minority patients have lower rates of cardiovascularmedication adherence, which may be amenable to co-payment reductions.Our objective was to evaluate the effect of race on adherencechanges following a statin co-payment reduction intervention.Study Design: Retrospective analysis.Methods: The intervention was implemented by a large selfinsuredemployer. Eligible individuals in the intervention cohort(n = 1961) were compared with a control group of employees ofother companies without such a policy (n = 37,320). As a proxy forrace, we categorized patients into tertiles based on the proportionof black residents living in their zip code of residence. Analyseswere performed using difference-in-differences design with generalizedestimating equations.Results: Prior to the new co-payment policy, adherence rateswere higher for individuals living in areas with fewer black residents.In multivariable models adjusting for demographic factors,clinical covariates and baseline trends, the co-payment reductionincreased adherence by 2.0% (P = .14), 2.1% (P = .15) and 6% (P<.0001) for intervention patients living in areas with the bottom,middle and top tertiles of the proportion of black residents. Theseresults persisted after adjusting for income.Conclusions: Co-payment reduction for statins preferentiallyimproved adherence among patients living in communities witha higher proportion of black residents. Further research is neededon the impact of value-based insurance design programs onreducing racial disparities in cardiovascular care.
PURPOSE: Trajectory models have been shown to (1) identify groups of patients with similar patterns of medication filling behavior and (2) summarize the trajectory, the average adherence in each group over time. However, the association between adherence trajectories and clinical outcomes remains unclear. This study investigated the association between 12-month statin trajectories and subsequent cardiovascular events. METHODS: We identified patients with insurance coverage from a large national insurer who initiated a statin during January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2010. We assessed medication adherence during the 360 days following initiation and grouped patients based on the proportion of days covered (PDC) and trajectory models. We then measured cardiovascular events during the year after adherence assessment. Cox proportional hazards models were used to evaluate the association between adherence measures and cardiovascular outcomes; strength of association was quantified by the hazard ratio, the increase in model C-statistic, and the net reclassification index (NRI). RESULTS: Among 519 842 statin initiators, 8777 (1.7%) had a cardiovascular event during follow-up. More consistent medication use was associated with a lower likelihood of clinical events, whether adherence was measured through trajectory groups or PDC. When evaluating the prediction of future cardiovascular events by including a measure of adherence in the model, the best model reclassification was observed when adherence was measured using three or four trajectory groups (NRI = 0.189; 95% confidence interval: [0.171, 0.210]). CONCLUSIONS: Statin adherence trajectory predicted future cardiovascular events better than measures categorizing PDC. Thus, adherence trajectories may be useful for targeting adherence interventions. Copyright (c) 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the second leading cause of mortality worldwide, accounting for 17 million deaths in 2013. More than 80% of these cases were in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Although the risk factors for the development of CVD are similar throughout the world, the evolving change in lifestyle and health behaviours in LMICs-including tobacco use, decreased physical activity, and obesity-are contributing to the escalating presence of CVD and mortality. Although CVD mortality is falling in high-income settings because of more effective preventive and management programs, access to evidence-based interventions for combating CVD in resource-limited settings is variable. The existing pressures on both human and financial resources impact the efforts of controlling CVD. The implementation of emerging innovative interventions to improve medication adherence, introducing m-health programs, and decentralizing the management of chronic diseases are promising methods to reduce the burden of chronic disease management on such fragile health care systems.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to compare treatment persistence and rates of seizure-related events in patients who initiate antiepileptic drug (AED) therapy with a generic versus a brand-name product. METHODS: We used linked electronic medical and pharmacy claims data to identify Medicare beneficiaries who initiated one of five AEDs (clonazepam, gabapentin, oxcarbazepine, phenytoin, zonisamide). We matched initiators of generic versus brand-name versions of these drugs using a propensity score that accounted for demographic, clinical, and health service utilization variables. We used a Cox proportional hazards model to compare rates of seizure-related emergency room (ER) visit or hospitalization (primary outcome) and ER visit for bone fracture or head injury (secondary outcome) between the matched generic and brand-name initiators. We also compared treatment persistence, measured as time to first 14-day treatment gap, between generic and brand-name initiators. RESULTS: We identified 19,760 AED initiators who met study eligibility criteria; 18,306 (93%) initiated a generic AED. In the matched cohort, we observed 47 seizure-related hospitalizations and ER visits among brand-name initiators and 31 events among generic initiators, corresponding to a hazard ratio of 0.53 (95% confidence interval, 0.30 to 0.96). Similar results were observed for the secondary clinical endpoint and across sensitivity analyses. Mean time to first treatment gap was 124.2days (standard deviation [sd], 125.8) for brand-name initiators and 137.9 (sd, 148.6) for generic initiators. SIGNIFICANCE: Patients who initiated generic AEDs had fewer adverse seizure-related clinical outcomes and longer continuous treatment periods before experiencing a gap than those who initiated brand-name versions.
BACKGROUND: Hyperuricemia and gout are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). It is unknown whether treating hyperuricemia with xanthine oxidase inhibitors (XOIs), including allopurinol and febuxostat, modifies cardiovascular risks. METHODS: We used US insurance claims data to conduct a cohort study among gout patients, comparing XOI initiators with non-users with hyperuricemia defined as serum uric acid level >/=6.8 mg/dL. We calculated incidence rates of a composite nonfatal cardiovascular outcome that included myocardial infarction, coronary revascularization, stroke, and heart failure. Propensity score (PS)-matched Cox proportional hazards regression compared the risk of composite cardiovascular endpoint in XOI initiators vs those with untreated hyperuricemia, controlling for baseline confounders. In a subgroup of patients with uric acid levels available, PS-matched Cox regression further adjusted for baseline uric acid levels. RESULTS: There were 24,108 PS-matched pairs with a mean age of 51 years and 88% male. The incidence rate per 1000 person-years for composite CVD was 24.1 (95% confidence interval [CI] 22.6-26.0) in XOI initiators and 21.4 (95% CI, 19.8-23.2) in the untreated hyperuricemia group. The PS-matched hazard ratio for composite CVD was 1.16 (95% CI, 0.99-1.34) in XOI initiators vs those with untreated hyperuricemia. In subgroup analyses, the PS-matched hazard ratio for composite CVD adjusted for serum uric acid levels was 1.10 (95% CI, 0.74-1.64) among XOI initiators. CONCLUSIONS: Among patients with gout, initiation of XOI was not associated with an increased or decreased cardiovascular risk compared with those with untreated hyperuricemia. Subgroup analyses adjusting for baseline uric acid levels also showed no association between XOI and cardiovascular risk.
BACKGROUND: Adherence to drugs that are prescribed after myocardial infarction remains suboptimal. Although eliminating patient cost sharing for secondary prevention increases adherence and reduces rates of major cardiovascular events, the long-term clinical and economic implications of this approach have not been adequately evaluated. METHODS AND RESULTS: We developed a Markov model simulating a hypothetical cohort of commercially insured patients who were discharged from the hospital after myocardial infarction. Patients received beta-blockers, renin-angiotensin system antagonists, and statins without cost sharing (full coverage) or at the current level of insurance coverage (usual coverage). Model inputs were extracted from the Post Myocardial Infarction Free Rx Event and Economic Evaluation trial and other published literature. The main outcome was an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio as measured by cost per quality-adjusted life year gained. Patients receiving usual coverage lived an average of 9.46 quality-adjusted life years after their event and incurred costs of $171,412. Patients receiving full coverage lived an average of 9.60 quality-adjusted life years and incurred costs of $167,401. Compared with usual coverage, full coverage would result in greater quality-adjusted survival (0.14 quality-adjusted life years) and less resource use ($4011) per patient. Our results were sensitive to alterations in the risk reduction for post-myocardial infarction events from full coverage. CONCLUSIONS: Providing full prescription drug coverage for evidence-based pharmacotherapy to commercially insured post-myocardial infarction patients has the potential to improve health outcomes and save money from the societal perspective over the long-term. CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION INFORMATION: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov. Unique identifier: NCT00566774.
PURPOSE: In 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a boxed warning against the administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery because of cardiovascular safety concerns. We assessed utilization rates before and after the advisory and evaluated predictors of NSAID administration following CABG. METHODS: We assembled a cohort of 277,576 patients who underwent CABG from 2004 to 2010. Temporal trends in NSAID exposure were evaluated, and predictors of postoperative NSAID use were identified using generalized estimating equations. RESULTS: Over the study period, 92,938 CABG patients (33.5%) received NSAIDs following surgery. The frequency of NSAID administration declined steadily over time, from a peak of 38.9% in 2004 to a low of 29.0% in 2010 (p < 0.0007). Ketorolac was the most frequent NSAID prescribed, commonly on the first postoperative day. Surgery performed after the boxed warning was independently associated with a 20% lower odds of NSAID administration [odds ratio (OR): 0.80; p = 0.0003]. Other factors that predicted a lower odds of NSAID use following surgery included a history of renal disease (OR: 0.33; p < 0.0001) and liver disease (OR: 0.66; p < 0.0001), and the need for concurrent valve surgery (OR: 0.78; p < 0.0001). A mammary graft at the time of surgery increased the odds of NSAID administration (OR: 1.23; p < 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: The frequency of NSAID administration after CABG has declined since the FDA advisory, yet many patients continue to receive them in recent years. Our data highlight the need for future research initiatives to further define the risks associated with NSAID use in this population.
INTRODUCTION: Several small studies have reported inconsistent findings about the safety of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) among patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). We sought to investigate post-CABG bleeding and mortality outcomes related to antidepressant exposure. METHODS: We identified patients who underwent CABG between 2004 and 2008 in the Premier Perspective Comparative Database. We determined whether they received SSRIs, other antidepressants, or no antidepressants on any pre-CABG hospital day and used Cox proportional hazards models to compare bleeding and mortality rates among the exposure groups while adjusting for potential confounders based on administrative data, pre-CABG charge codes, and discharge diagnosis codes. RESULTS: We identified 132,686 eligible patients: 7112 exposed to SSRIs, 1905 exposed to other antidepressants, and 123,668 unexposed. As compared with no exposure, neither SSRIs (hazard ratio [HR] 0.98; 95 % confidence interval [CI] 0.90-1.07) nor other antidepressants (HR 1.11; 95 % CI 0.96-1.28) increased major bleeds, and neither SSRIs (HR 0.93; 95 % CI 0.80-1.07) nor other antidepressants (HR 0.84; 95 % CI 0.62-1.14) increased mortality. Both SSRIs (HR 1.14; 95 % CI 1.10-1.18) and other antidepressants (HR 1.11; 95 % CI 1.03-1.19) were associated with a slight increase in receipt of one or more packed red blood cell (pRBC) units, but neither were associated with substantial increases in receipt of three or more pRBC units (HR 1.06; 95 % CI 0.96-1.17 for SSRIs; HR 1.09; 95 % CI 0.91-1.31 for other antidepressants). CONCLUSION: In this large cohort study, neither SSRIs nor other antidepressants were associated with elevated rates of major bleed, or in-hospital mortality.
BACKGROUND: Patients, physicians, and other decision makers make implicit but inevitable trade-offs among risks and benefits of treatments. Many methods have been proposed to promote transparent and rigorous benefit-risk analysis (BRA). OBJECTIVE: To propose a framework for classifying BRA methods on the basis of key factors that matter most for patients by using a common mathematical notation and compare their results using a hypothetical example. METHODS: We classified the available BRA methods into three categories: 1) unweighted metrics, which use only probabilities of benefits and risks; 2) metrics that incorporate preference weights and that account for the impact and duration of benefits and risks; and 3) metrics that incorporate weights based on decision makers' opinions. We used two hypothetical antiplatelet drugs (a and b) to compare the BRA methods within our proposed framework. RESULTS: Unweighted metrics include the number needed to treat and the number needed to harm. Metrics that incorporate preference weights include those that use maximum acceptable risk, those that use relative-value-adjusted life-years, and those that use quality-adjusted life-years. Metrics that use decision makers' weights include the multicriteria decision analysis, the benefit-less-risk analysis, Boers' 3 by 3 table, the Gail/NCI method, and the transparent uniform risk benefit overview. Most BRA methods can be derived as a special case of a generalized formula in which some are mathematically identical. Numerical comparison of methods highlights potential differences in BRA results and their interpretation. CONCLUSIONS: The proposed framework provides a unified, patient-centered approach to BRA methods classification based on the types of weights that are used across existing methods, a key differentiating feature.
AbstractBackground Long-term adherence to prescription medications for the treatment of chronic disease remains low. While there are many contributors to suboptimal medication use, simple forgetfulness is widely believed to be central. Relatively simple devices may be a particularly cost-efficient and scalable way to promote adherence, however limited data exists about their ability to improve adherence in real-world settings. Methods/design The REMIND trial is a prospective, intent-to-treat randomized control trial to evaluate the impact on medication adherence of three simple, low-cost devices (Take-N-Slide™, the RxTimerCap™, and a standard pillbox). In March 2014, we enrolled 53,480 individuals 18 to 64 years old taking one to three medications to treat chronic disease whose prescription drug benefits were administered by CVS Caremark. The study's primary outcome is optimal adherence over the 12-month period after randomization. Using a randomization ratio of 1:2 between control and each intervention arm, the study has more than 80% power with an alpha of 5% to detect a 1% difference in the rate of optimal adherence between intervention and control groups and across intervention arms. Discussion The REMIND trial is the first randomized study to rigorously evaluate the impact of simple, low-cost reminder devices on medication adherence. The results will inform comparative cost effectiveness studies of reminder systems in improving medication adherence and clinical outcomes.
BACKGROUND: Solid clinical evidence supports the effectiveness and safety of multiple drugs in treating diabetes, dyslipidemia, and hypertension, and numerous fixed-dose combination products (FDCs) containing such drugs have been developed for patients with more severe forms of these diseases. We sought to evaluate the extent to which utilization of treatment combinations for these conditions corresponded to the availability of FDCs. METHODS: Using claims data from a large national commercial insurer, we identified 2 cohorts of patients: those who filled multiple single-agent drugs to treat diabetes, dyslipidemia, and hypertension in 2012, and those who used FDCs containing these products during the same period. We determined the fill rate of single-agent pairs and FDCs, availability of FDCs for the most frequently filled single-agent and drug class pairs, and the number of conditions treated by frequently filled single-agent pairs and FDCs. RESULTS: During our study period, 848,082 patients filled prescriptions for 3,248 unique single-agent pairs (mean 4.7 per patient, standard deviation [SD] 5.0); and 568,923 patients received prescriptions for 43 unique FDCs (mean 1.1 per patient, SD 0.3). Three (15%) of the 20 most frequently filled single-agent pairs were available as FDCs, whereas 9 (45%) of the 20 most frequently filled drug class pairs were available as FDCs. Nearly all of the frequently filled FDCs had lower fill rates than the most frequently filled single-agent pairs. CONCLUSIONS: Utilization of drug combinations to treat cardiovascular conditions does not correspond well with availability of FDCs containing these agents. A concerted set of strategies should be implemented to streamline the development of useful combination products, including expedited approval pathways and increased investment in formulation studies.