Objective: To determine whether large prescriptions (≥90 days’ supplies) enhance the acquisition of maintenance medications by patients.
Design: Study 1: multisite, retrospective cohort study evaluating outpatient digoxin use. Study 2: single-site, retrospective cohort study to confirm Study 1.
Setting: Study 1: Ten Veterans Affairs Medical Centers in the Rocky Mountain region. Study 2: The only facility from Study 1 (site C) that dispensed large prescriptions of maintenance medications.
Patients: Randomly selected outpatients receiving two or more digoxin prescriptions (n=176 in Study 1,n=114 in Study 2).
Results: The main outcome measure was the proportion of prescribed doses of maintenance medications obtained. In Study 1, patients who received at least one large digoxin prescription obtained a mean of 13 7.2% of their prescribed digoxin doses over a mean of nine months, compared with 91.3% for patients who received only small prescriptions of <90 days’ supplies (p=0.02). Patients receiving large prescriptions were more likely to obtain at least 100% of their prescribed amounts of digoxin (adjusted OR=11.4, 95% CI=1.3–96.8, p=0.03). At site C, patients in Study 1 obtained a mean of 129.0% of all maintenance drugs given in large supplies, compared with 95.2% of drugs prescribed only in small supplies (p=0.006). In Study 2, acquisition of digoxin increased progressively from 89.7% among individuals who received only small digoxin prescriptions to 113.0% for those who received only large supplies (p=0.002), over a mean of 14 months.
Conclusions: Large prescriptions facilitate the acquisition of maintenance medications but may lead to oversupplies, while small prescriptions impose a barrier to obtaining these drugs.
digoxin patient compliance drug prescriptions drug utilization