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WAG study: Patient adherence with 90-day Rx at retail as good or better than mail order


DEERFIELD, Ill. — Medication adherence is as high or slightly better among patients filling 90-day prescriptions at retail versus mail order, according to a new Walgreens study published in the November issue of the American Journal of Managed Care that the chain highlighted Thursday.

According to the study, adherence levels for 90-day at retail were 77%, while at mail-order adherence levels were 76%.

"Patients who fill maintenance prescriptions at retail have a statistically significantly higher [medication possession ratio] than patients who fill their prescriptions via mail," wrote Nikhil Khandelwal, lead author of the study and Walgreens manager of pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research. MPR represents the percentage of time a patient has access to medication. "The retail setting may present advantages related to quality of care and patient convenience. However, additional studies are needed to better understand factors which may contribute to this result."

“We know that improving patient adherence is critical,” said Jeffrey Kang, Walgreens SVP pharmacy, health and wellness services and solutions. “Given that community pharmacy also provides patients the potential benefit of face-to-face interaction with a pharmacist to help them manage their medications and overall wellness, these findings suggest that a 90-day at retail option in health plans potentially drives better patient outcomes and reduced costs for employers and payers.”

For the study, de-identified pharmacy claims data from a large pharmacy benefit manager were analyzed. Patients were selected if they were continuously eligible for at least 12 months between January 2008 and August 2010, with plan designs that allowed the option of filling 90-day supplies at either retail or mail order. Adherence was measured by medication possessions ratio for nine therapeutic groups (antiasthmatics and bronchodilators, antidepressants, antidiabetics, antihyperlipidemics, antihypertensives, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, diuretics and thyroid agents).

The full study is available online.

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