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.