Pharmacy-based interventions to reduce primary medication nonadherence to cardiovascular medications

Med Care. 2014 Dec;52(12):1050-4. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000000247.


Background: Primary medication nonadherence (PMN) occurs when patients do not fill new prescriptions. Interventions to reduce PMN have not been well described.

Objectives: To determine whether 2 pharmacy-based interventions could decrease PMN.

Design: Two sequential interventions with a control group were evaluated after completion. The automated intervention began in 2007 and consisted of phone calls to patients on the third and seventh days after a prescription was processed but remained unpurchased. The live intervention began in 2009 and used calls from a pharmacist or technician to patients who still had not picked up their prescriptions after 8 days.

Subjects: Patients with newly prescribed cardiovascular medications received at CVS community pharmacies. Patients with randomly selected birthdays served as the control population.

Measures: Patient abandonment of new prescription, defined as not picking up medications within 30 days of initial processing at the pharmacy.

Results: The automated intervention included 852,612 patients and 1.2 million prescriptions, with a control group of 9282 patients and 13,178 prescriptions. The live intervention included 121,155 patients and 139,502 prescriptions with a control group of 2976 patients and 3407 prescriptions. The groups were balanced by age, sex, and patterns of prior prescription use. For the automated intervention, 4.2% of prescriptions were abandoned in the intervention group and 4.5% in the control group (P>0.1), with no significant differences for any individual classes of medications. The live intervention was used in a group that had not purchased prescriptions after 8 days and thus had much higher PMN. In this setting 36.9% of prescriptions were abandoned in the intervention group and 41.7% in the control group, a difference of 4.8% (P<0.0001). The difference in abandoned prescriptions for antihypertensives was 6.9% (P<0.0001) but for antihyperlipidemics was only 1.4% (P>0.1).

Conclusions: Automated reminder calls had no effect on PMN. Live calls from pharmacists decreased antihypertensive PMN significantly, although many patients still abandoned their prescriptions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Cardiovascular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Community Pharmacy Services / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence*
  • Middle Aged
  • Reminder Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Telephone
  • Young Adult


  • Cardiovascular Agents