High rates of medication adherence in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension: An integrated specialty pharmacy approach

PLoS One. 2019 Jun 6;14(6):e0217798. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0217798. eCollection 2019.


Phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors (PDE-5I) have demonstrated improvement in disease symptoms and quality of life for patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Despite these benefits, reported adherence to PDE-5I therapy is sub-optimal. Clinical pharmacists at an integrated practice site are in a unique position to mitigate barriers related to PAH therapy including medication adherence and costs. The primary objective of this study was to assess medication adherence to PDE-5I therapy within an integrated care model at an academic institution. The secondary objective was to assess the impact of out-of-pocket (OOP) cost, frequency of dosing, adverse events (AE) and PAH-related hospitalizations on medication adherence. We performed a retrospective cohort analysis of adult patients with PAH who were prescribed PDE-5I therapy by the center's outpatient pulmonary clinic and who received medication management through the center's specialty pharmacy. We defined optimal medication adherence as proportion of days covered (PDC) ≥ 80%. Clinical data including AEs and PAH-related hospitalizations were extracted from the electronic medical record, and financial data from pharmacy claims. Of the 131 patients meeting inclusion criteria, 94% achieved optimal adherence of ≥ 80% PDC. In this study population, 47% of patients experienced an AE and 27% had at least one hospitalization. The median monthly OOP cost was $0.62. Patients with PDC<80% were more likely to report an AE compared to patients with PDC≥ 80% (p = 0.002). Hospitalization, OOP cost, and frequency of dosing were not associated with adherence in this cohort. Patients receiving PDE-5I therapy through an integrated model achieved high adherence rates and low OOP costs.

MeSH terms

  • Antihypertensive Agents / adverse effects
  • Antihypertensive Agents / economics
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pharmacy*
  • Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension / economics


  • Antihypertensive Agents

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.