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Concept: CVS Caremark


Background Financial incentives promote many health behaviors, but effective ways to deliver health incentives remain uncertain. Methods We randomly assigned CVS Caremark employees and their relatives and friends to one of four incentive programs or to usual care for smoking cessation. Two of the incentive programs targeted individuals, and two targeted groups of six participants. One of the individual-oriented programs and one of the group-oriented programs entailed rewards of approximately $800 for smoking cessation; the others entailed refundable deposits of $150 plus $650 in reward payments for successful participants. Usual care included informational resources and free smoking-cessation aids. Results Overall, 2538 participants were enrolled. Of those assigned to reward-based programs, 90.0% accepted the assignment, as compared with 13.7% of those assigned to deposit-based programs (P<0.001). In intention-to-treat analyses, rates of sustained abstinence from smoking through 6 months were higher with each of the four incentive programs (range, 9.4 to 16.0%) than with usual care (6.0%) (P<0.05 for all comparisons); the superiority of reward-based programs was sustained through 12 months. Group-oriented and individual-oriented programs were associated with similar 6-month abstinence rates (13.7% and 12.1%, respectively; P=0.29). Reward-based programs were associated with higher abstinence rates than deposit-based programs (15.7% vs. 10.2%, P<0.001). However, in instrumental-variable analyses that accounted for differential acceptance, the rate of abstinence at 6 months was 13.2 percentage points (95% confidence interval, 3.1 to 22.8) higher in the deposit-based programs than in the reward-based programs among the estimated 13.7% of the participants who would accept participation in either type of program. Conclusions Reward-based programs were much more commonly accepted than deposit-based programs, leading to higher rates of sustained abstinence from smoking. Group-oriented incentive programs were no more effective than individual-oriented programs. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and CVS Caremark; number, NCT01526265 .).

Concepts: Smoking cessation, Randomness, Motivation, Incentive, Incentive program, Travel incentive, CVS Caremark, Caremark Rx


BACKGROUND:: Classifying medication adherence is important for efficiently targeting adherence improvement interventions. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of a novel method, group-based trajectory models, for classifying patients by their long-term adherence. RESEARCH DESIGN:: We identified patients who initiated a statin between June 1, 2006 and May 30, 2007 in prescription claims from CVS Caremark and evaluated adherence over the subsequent 15 months. We compared several adherence summary measures, including proportion of days covered (PDC) and trajectory models with 2-6 groups, with the observed adherence pattern, defined by monthly indicators of full adherence (defined as having ≥24 d covered of 30). We also compared the accuracy of adherence prediction based on patient characteristics when adherence was defined by either a trajectory model or PDC. RESULTS:: In 264,789 statin initiators, the 6-group trajectory model summarized long-term adherence best (C=0.938), whereas PDC summarized less well (C=0.881). The accuracy of adherence predictions was similar whether adherence was classified by PDC or by trajectory model. CONCLUSIONS:: Trajectory models summarized adherence patterns better than traditional approaches and were similarly predicted by covariates. Group-based trajectory models may facilitate targeting of interventions and may be useful to adjust for confounding by health-seeking behavior.

Concepts: Scientific method, Prediction, Futurology, Future, Prophecy, Hypothesis, Divination, CVS Caremark


OBJECTIVE Cystic vestibular schwannomas (CVSs) are a subgroup of vestibular schwannomas (VSs) that are reported to be associated with unpredictable clinical behavior and unfavorable postoperative outcomes. The authors aimed to review their experience with microsurgical treatment of CVSs in terms of extent of resection and postoperative facial nerve (FN) function and compare these outcomes with those of their solid counterparts. METHODS Two hundred-eleven VS patients were treated surgically between 2006 and 2017. Tumors were defined as cystic when preoperative neuroimaging demonstrated cyst formation that was confirmed by intraoperative findings. Solid VS (SVSs) with similar classes were used for comparison. Clinical data of the patients were reviewed retrospectively, including clinical notes and images, as well as operative, pathology, and neuroradiology reports. RESULTS Thirty-two patients (20 males and 12 females) with a mean age of 52.2 years (range 17-77 years) underwent microsurgical resection of 33 CVSs (mean size 3.6 cm, range 1.5-5 cm). Forty-nine patients (26 males and 23 females) with a mean age of 49.9 years (range 21-75 years) underwent microsurgical resection of 49 SVSs (mean size 3 cm, range 2-4.5 cm). All operations were performed via either a retrosigmoid or a translabyrinthine approach. Gross-total resection was achieved in 30 cases in the CVS group (90.9%) and 37 in the SVS group (75.5%). The main reason for subtotal and near-total resection was adherence of the tumor to the brainstem and/or FN in both groups. None of the patients with subtotal or near-total resection in the CVS group demonstrated symptomatic regrowth of the tumor during the mean follow-up period of 41.6 months (range 18-82 months). The FN was anatomically preserved in all patients in both groups. Good FN outcomes were achieved in 15 of CVS (grade I-II; 45.5%) and 35 of SVS (71.4%) surgeries at discharge. Good and fair FN functions were noted in 22 (grade I-II; 81.5%) and 5 (grade III only; 18.5%) of the CVS patients, respectively, at the 1-year follow-up; none of the patients showed poor FN function. CONCLUSIONS Surgery of CVSs does not necessarily result in poor outcomes in terms of the extent of resection and FN function. Special care should be exercised to preserve anatomical continuity of the FN during surgery, since long-term FN function outcomes are much more satisfactory than short-term results. High rates of gross-total resection and good FN outcomes in our study may also suggest that microsurgery stands as the treatment of choice in select cases of large CVSs and SVSs in the era of radiosurgery.

Concepts: Oncology, Surgery, Brain tumor, Physician, Sebaceous cyst, Cyst, CVS Caremark


Context: Ticagrelor (Brilinta®) is a new oral reversible antiplatelet agent approved by the FDA in July 2011 based on the results of the PLATO (Platelet Inhibition and Patient Outcomes) trial. However, despite very favorable and broad indications, the current clinical utilization of ticagrelor is woefully small. Objective: We aimed to compare ticagrelor formulary tiers for major private (n = 8) and government-funded (n = 4) insurance providers for 2012-2013. Results: Over the last year, ticagrelor placement improved, becoming a preferred drug (from Tier 3 in 2012 to Tier 2 in 2013) for Medco, moving from Tier 4 (with a prior approval requirement) to Tier 3 (no prior approval) for the United Health Care Private Plan and achieving Tier 3 status for Apex in 2013. In contrast, ticagrelor placement did not improve for New York Medicaid, retaining Tier 3 status. In addition, many Medicare Part D formularies have significantly worse coverage than most private plans. For example, Humana Medicare Part D has Tier 3 status requiring step therapy and quantity limits, SilverScript (CVS Caremark) Part D is Tier 3 and the American Association of Retired Persons (United Health Care) Medicare Part D is Tier 4 requiring prior approval. Conclusions: Ticagrelor formulary placement is significantly better for most private providers than for government-funded plans, which may possibly be due to the selective targeting of private insurance providers and the simultaneous avoidance of government-funded plans. © 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel.

Concepts: Better, Medicare, Health insurance in the United States, Medicare Part D, Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act, Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, CVS Caremark, Humana


Objective: To determine the impact of FDA safety communications regarding the weight loss medications sibutramine and orlistat. Design and Methods. We used 2008 to 2011 pharmacy claims data from CVS Caremark to determine the effect of the relevant FDA warnings on 1) the use of sibutramine and orlistat, 2) their rates of discontinuation, and 3) substitution to an alternate weight loss medication in the three month period following discontinuation. Results: The use of sibutramine, orlistat, or phentermine declined from 45 users per 100,000 Caremark enrollees in May 2008 to 24 users per 100,000 enrollees in December 2010. In the time series analyses of overall use of medications, we found a very small decline in the trend of use of sibutramine after the FDA communication (0.000002% per month decline after the communication; P<0.001). However, rates of discontinuation of sibutramine and orlistat were similar before and after relevant FDA communications (all P values >0.1 for both level and trend changes post-warning). Patients discontinuing sibutramine post-communication increased use of phentermine at a rate of 0.004% per month after discontinuation (P=0.01). Conclusion: From 2008 to 2010, use of prescription weight loss medications was low and declined over time. FDA communications regarding the safety of these medications had limited effect on use.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Prescription drug, Obesity, Pharmaceutical drug, Time series, Food and Drug Administration, CVS Caremark, Caremark Rx