Reducing medication costs to prevent cardiovascular disease: A community guide systematic review

Community Preventive Services Task Force

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction: Hypertension and hyperlipidemia are major cardiovascular disease risk factors. To modify them, patients often need to adopt healthier lifestyles and adhere to prescribed medications. However, patients' adherence to recommended treatments has been suboptimal. Reducing out-of-pocket costs (ROPC) to patients may improve medication adherence and consequently improve health outcomes. This Community Guide systematic review examined the effectiveness of ROPC for medications prescribed for patients with hypertension and hyperlipidemia. Methods: We assessed effectiveness and economics of ROPC for medications to treat hypertension, hyperlipidemia, or both. Per Community Guide review methods, reviewers identified, evaluated, and summarized available evidence published from January 1980 through July 2015. Results: Eighteen studies were included in the analysis. ROPC interventions resulted in increased medication adherence for patients taking blood pressure and cholesterol medications by a median of 3.0 percentage points; proportion achieving 80% adherence to medication increased by 5.1 percentage points. Blood pressure and cholesterol outcomes also improved. Nine studies were included in the economic review, with a median intervention cost of $172 per person per year and a median change in health care cost of -$127 per person per year. Conclusion: ROPC for medications to treat hypertension and hyperlipidemia is effective in increasing medication adherence, and, thus, improving blood pressure and cholesterol outcomes. Most ROPC interventions are implemented in combination with evidence-based health care interventions such as team-based care with medication counseling. An overall conclusion about the economics of the intervention could not be reached with the small body of inconsistent cost-benefit evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number150242
JournalPreventing Chronic Disease
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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