Mail order boosts med adherence for stroke patients

March 2, 2016

Stroke patients were more adherent to mail order prescriptions versus picking up their medications at retail pharmacies, according to new research presented at the recent International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles, Calif.

Stroke patients were more adherent to mail order prescriptions versus picking up their medications at retail pharmacies, according to new research presented at the recent International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles, Calif.

After analyzing Kaiser Permanente data on around 8 million stroke patients, researchers found that patients were more adherent to statins and anticoagulants when they had their prescriptions mailed to them (73.9%) versus when they picked up their prescriptions from their local pharmacy (46.8%).

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Ovbiagele

“In general, the convenience of having the drug delivered to your home just makes it easier to ensure not to forget or have to go out of your way to pick up the medication every time you are about to run out,” Bruce Ovbiagele, MD, professor and chairman of the Department of Neurology at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, S.C., told FormularyWatch. “Specifically for stroke patients, many times after the stroke, these patients have lingering challenges with memory or ambulation, such that having to remember to pick up the medications directly from the pharmacy or relying on others to help pick up the medications can be a challenge.”

Ovbiagele and his colleagues also found that patients who received medications by mail were more likely to have better adherence to medications for treating cholesterol (87.6%) versus 56.4% when picking up the drugs at the pharmacy. For blood thinners, patients were 56% more likely to take those medications when mailed versus 45% when picking up the pharmacy.

However, even with the mail-order pharmacy option, a quarter of the stroke patients were still not properly adhering to medications for stroke prevention.

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“This research highlights a strategy [mail-order pharmacy] that could greatly boost patient adherence/fill rates of medications proven to prevent repeat strokes, thereby potentially reducing the risk of future disability or even death in these patients. However, it also underscores the fact that generally there is tremendous room for improvement with regard to enhancing patient adherence/fill rates of medications proven to prevent repeat strokes,” Ovbiagele said.

Physicians may want to encourage the use of mail-order pharmacy for their stroke patients, and “stroke patients, as well as their loved ones, may want to strongly consider accepting this option,” Ovbiagele added.

The next step for Ovbiagele and his fellow researchers is to “find out beyond enhancing medication adherence, whether early mail-order pharmacy use is linked to a reduction of future strokes and risk of dying within a year after a stroke.”

The current research findings will be published later this year in one of the scientific journals covering research in stroke. 

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