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Nearly 30% of Women Fail to Pick Up New Prescriptions for Osteoporosis

Study identifies factors associated with primary nonadherence (Apr. 18)

Nearly 30% of women failed to pick up prescriptions for bisphosphonates, medications that are most commonly used to treat osteoporosis and similar bone diseases, according to a study from Kaiser Permanente in Pasadena, California. The failure to pick up these newly prescribed medications, called primary nonadherence, can lead to an increased risk of fractures for these patients, the authors say.

The new study was published in Osteoporosis International.

The authors examined the electronic health records of 8,454 women aged 55 years or older who were Kaiser Permanente Southern California members between December 2009 and March 2011 and who were prescribed a new bisphosphonate medication. The study found that 29.5% of these women did not pick up their prescription within 60 days of the order date. In particular, older women and those who used the emergency department during the previous year were less likely to pick up their bisphosphonate prescription. However, women taking other prescription medications and those who had been hospitalized during the previous year were more likely to pick up their bisphosphonate prescription, according to the researchers.

“Although bisphosphonates have been proven to reduce the risk of osteoporotic fracture, low adherence to these medications is common, which contributes to serious and costly health problems,” said lead author Kristi Reynolds, PhD, MPH. “This study simultaneously examined patient and prescribing provider characteristics and helped identify certain factors associated with why patients failed to pick up their new prescriptions.”

Previous studies estimated that medication nonadherence contributes to approximately 125,000 deaths and costs the U.S. health care system $290 billion each year. One in three patients prescribed a medication by their health care provider never pick it up from the pharmacy, and, among those who do, nearly 75% do not take prescription drugs according to providers’ orders.

“These findings suggest that health care providers must do a better job of identifying barriers and developing interventions that address the individual patient’s needs and concerns at the time the prescription is ordered,” Reynolds said. “The use of electronic health records, like the system in place at Kaiser Permanente, has helped us better understand and address primary nonadherence, which has historically been difficult to identify.”

Source: Kaiser Permanente; April 18, 2013.

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