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More MS news articles for April 2003

Results of Medco Health's Health Management Program for Multiple Sclerosis Shows Positive Impact on Patient Health

Program Improves Patients' Persistency and Compliance of MS Drug Therapy

April 9, 2003
Source: Medco Health Solutions, Inc.
Business Editors/Health/Medical Writers
Business Wire
Franklin Lakes, N.J.

New patients treated for multiple sclerosis who are enrolled in an information-and-education program are more likely to stay on their treatment regimens according to a study released today by Medco Health Solutions, Inc., the nation's leading pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) at the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy 15th Annual Meeting and Showcase, April 9-12, 2003, at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

"Patient education and knowledge are critical in successfully treating and managing multiple sclerosis," said Dr. Robert Epstein, chief medical officer, Medco Health. "Our Positive Approaches(TM) Multiple Sclerosis program enables patients to play an active role in managing their disease and helps them to improve their health and quality of life."

The outcomes study revealed that multiple sclerosis (MS) patients who are new to MS therapy were significantly more adherent to their doctor's recommended medication therapy and remained on their treatment program longer than a control group of patients not participating in the program.

The study, which examined the persistency (duration of therapy) and compliance rates of 5,676 people new to MS therapies, found:

Currently, more than 15,000 people suffering from MS are enrolled in the Positive Approaches Multiple Sclerosis Program. The program helps patients meet the challenges of living with MS by providing engaging, user-friendly information and timely support to better educate them about their disease and to increase their knowledge of their condition. The program also helps promote compliance and persistency with medication use, optimize patient prescription refill behavior, and facilitate and improve interactions between patients and physicians.

"Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable disease, with symptoms that can vary greatly from person to person. This can leave individuals frustrated and sometimes even confused," said Dr. Nancy Holland, Vice President Clinical Programs and the Professional Resource Center, National Multiple Sclerosis Society. "Programs like this, from Medco Health, offer an important benefit to patients, providing them encouragement and a guiding hand to make disease management easier and more comfortable."

Program interventions tailored to MS patients include a welcome brochure providing practical knowledge to help manage MS, three planned tele-counseling calls and potentially two medication drop-off calls regarding topics such as National Multiple Sclerosis Society enrollment, therapy expectations, side effect management, and any injection concerns. Each participant also receives a voucher for a complimentary one-year membership to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and a bi-annual newsletter designed to update participants on current MS information. Program participants have reported a 93 percent satisfaction rate with the MS health information they receive. In addition, physicians who treat program participants also receive targeted educational materials with updated standards of care or copies of educational materials sent to patients.

The program has been developed with guidance from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and is jointly supported by MS therapy manufacturers Berlex Laboratories, Inc., Biogen, Inc., and Teva Neuroscience.

Managing Health Through Health Management

With nearly one in four Americans having a chronic condition such as diabetes, asthma, or cardiovascular disease, Medco Health is committed to effectively improving the quality of life and health of these patients through the company's proprietary health management programs.

Since 1992, the company has developed these programs with the clear understanding of the natural course of a disease in a population and the effect of interventions at critical points within an illness. Medco Health's Health Management programs offer a comprehensive range of innovative products and programs in key therapeutic areas that drive over 70 percent of healthcare dollars. By focusing on patients with these chronic illnesses, the company's health management programs can help to educate patients, improve self-management and quality of life, while contributing to an overall decrease in health care spending for health plan sponsors.

About Medco Health

Medco Health Solutions, Inc. is the nation's leading provider of prescription healthcare services, based on the $33 billion in drug spend the company managed for its clients in 2002. Formerly known as Merck-Medco, Medco Health is a wholly owned and independently managed subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK), and assists its clients to moderate the cost and enhance the quality of prescription drug benefits provided to 64 million Americans nationwide.

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