Refill adherence by the elderly for asthma/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease drugs dispensed over a 10-year period

J Clin Pharm Ther. 2007 Dec;32(6):603-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2710.2007.00866.x.


Objective: The objective was to survey prescription refill adherence for preventive asthma/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) medication dispensed to patients 60 years and older over a 10-year period.

Methods: A retrospective analysis was conducted based on a Swedish pharmacy record database in the county of Jämtland for the years 1994-2003. Satisfactory refill adherence was set as dispensed refills covering 80-120% of the prescribed treatment time for inhaled corticosteroids, combination products of adrenergics and steroids and anticholinergics.

Results and discussion: Only 28% (n=160) of the repeat prescriptions for inhaled corticosteroids had been dispensed with a satisfactory refill adherence, 59% showed an undersupply and 12% showed an oversupply. There was no difference in refill adherence in relation to age and gender. However, during the 10-year study period repeat prescriptions being dispensed for 2-4 years showed higher satisfactory refill adherence than those being dispensed for <2 years.

Conclusions: Our study shows that over half of the repeat prescriptions for inhaled corticosteroids dispensed to patients over 60 years showed an undersupply. Therefore, it is likely that elderly patients on long-term therapy have a non-optimal drug use of their preventive asthma/COPD medication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage
  • Adrenergic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Cholinergic Antagonists / administration & dosage
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Drug Utilization
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Adrenergic Agents
  • Cholinergic Antagonists