Nearly One-Third of Initial Prescriptions Remain Unfilled

Nearly One-Third of Initial Prescriptions Remain Unfilled
Nearly One-Third of Initial Prescriptions Remain Unfilled

(HealthDay News) — A sizable number of patients fail to fill their initial drug prescriptions, according to research published in the April 1 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Robyn Tamblyn, PhD, of McGill University in Montreal, and colleagues examined data from 15,961 patients in a primary care network to estimate the incidence of primary nonadherence. Primary nonadherence was defined as failure to fill an incident prescription within nine months.

The researchers found that 31.3% of 37,506 incident prescriptions remained unfilled. Prescriptions for drugs in the upper quartile of cost were the least likely to be filled (odds ratio [OR], 1.11; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.07–1.17). Compared with anti-infectives, prescriptions for skin agents, gastrointestinal drugs, and autonomic drugs also were less likely to be filled. Prescription nonadherence was less likely with increasing patient age (OR per 10 years, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.85–0.92), elimination of copayments for prescription drugs in low-income groups (OR, 0.37; 95% CI, 0.32–0.41), and greater proportion of all physician visits with the prescribing physician (OR per 0.5 increase, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.70–0.85).

"Primary nonadherence is common and may be reduced by lower drug costs and copayments, as well as increased follow-up care with prescribing physicians for patients with chronic conditions," the authors write.

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