NU Online News Service, Dec. 10, 2003, 1:03 p.m. EST – Big increases in prescription drug co-pays may cause some patients to stop taking important medications, according to a study published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine.[@@]
The researchers who conducted the study looked at changes in prescription plans that took place at two large employers in 2000.
One employer increased co-payments for all types of drugs and the second increased co-payments only for expensive brand-name drugs.
Many employees at the second employer shifted to medications with lower co-payments but kept taking medication of some kind.
Employees at the first company, who faced big increases in co-payments for all prescriptions, were more likely to shift to drugs in categories with lower co-payments, but they also were more likely to stop taking any medication, the researchers report.
The researchers found, for example, that 16% of the patients who had been using expensive ACE inhibitors for cardiovascular disease stopped taking any ACE inhibitors, compared with 6% of the patients in a control group.