Use of a national database as a tool to identify primary medication non-adherence: The Estonian ePrescription system

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Abstract

Background:

Medication adherence can be divided into primary and secondary adherence. Primary medication non-adherence (PMN) occurs when a patient does not obtain medicine with their initial prescription. Secondary non-adherence measures prescription refills among patients who previously filled their first prescription. While secondary non-adherence has been studied thoroughly, PMN has been assessed less extensively, due to lack of available data. Estonian ePrescription system might prove a valuable tool for this.

Objectives:

The aim of this study was to evaluate PMN and the interval between prescribing and dispensing of medicines using the Estonian ePrescriptions database to establish its potential use for this purpose and for other qualitative drug utilization research measures. Osteoporosis medicines were used as an example.

Methods:

The Estonian Prescription Centre was used to evaluate if patients purchase medicines after initial prescription of osteoporosis medicine. Prescriptions from 2012 to 2015 of all patients over 18 were included. PMN was defined as the first prescription not being dispensed before it expired (60 days). The rate of PMN was calculated.

Results:

Estonian ePrescription System enabled fast evaluation of PMN of osteoporosis patients based on data about prescribing, dispensing and time intervals in-between. Of patients who started osteoporosis treatment 13.1% were primary non-adherent. Of primary non-adherent patients 42% still started treatment at some point during the study. Of patients who did purchase their first prescription 80.4% did so within a week and 95% within 25 days.

Conclusion:

The Estonian ePrescription system is a useful tool for monitoring PMN. The PMN of osteoporosis medicines was identified as lower than previously reported. More similar type of studies about other groups of medicines would be needed to understand the pattern of PMN and give valuable information to healthcare specialists about how to increase initiation of treatment.

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