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Am J Manag Care. 2007 Aug;13(8):445-52.

Adherence to beta-blocker therapy under drug cost-sharing in patients with and without acute myocardial infarction.

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  • 1Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 1620 Tremont St (Ste 3030), Boston, MA 02120, USA.



To evaluate the effects of patient copayment and coinsurance policies on adherence to therapy with beta-adrenergic blocking agents (beta-blockers) and on the rate of initiation of beta-blocker therapy after acute myocardial infarction (MI) in a population-based natural experiment.


Three sequential cohorts included British Columbia residents age 66 years and older who initiated beta-blocker therapy during time intervals with full drug coverage (2001), a $10 or $25 copayment (2002), and 25% coinsurance (2003-2004). We used linked data on all prescription drug dispensings, physician services, and hospitalizations. Follow-up of each cohort was 9 months after the policy changes.


We measured the proportion of subjects in each cohort who were adherent to beta-blocker therapy over time, with adherence defined as having >80% of days covered. We also measured the proportion of patients initiating beta-blocker therapy after acute MI. Policy effects were evaluated using multivariable regression.


Adherence to beta-blocker therapy was marginally reduced as a consequence of the copayment policy (-1.3 percentage points, 95% confidence interval [CI] = -2.5 , -0.04) or the coinsurance policy (-0.8 percentage points, 95% CI = -2.0, 0.3). The proportion of patients initiating beta-blockers after hospitalization for acute MI remained steady at about 61% during the study period, similar to that observed in a control population of elderly Pennsylvania residents with full drug coverage.


Fixed patient copayment and coinsurance policies had little negative effect on adherence to relatively inexpensive beta-blocker therapy, or initiation of beta-blockers after acute MI.

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