Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 611–614

Impact of Fixed-Dose Combination Drugs on Adherence to Prescription Medications

Brief Report

DOI: 10.1007/s11606-008-0544-x

Cite this article as:
Pan, F., Chernew, M.E. & Fendrick, A.M. J GEN INTERN MED (2008) 23: 611. doi:10.1007/s11606-008-0544-x



The inverse correlation between the complexity of a drug regimen and medication adherence is well established. Fixed-dose combination (FDC) therapies are hypothesized to enhance compliance by decreasing the number of required pills.


The objective of the study is to compare adherence of a FDC [Glucovance®, a FDC of metformin and glyburide] to a 2-pill regimen.


Longitudinal data from a large claims database were used to assess adherence from January 1, 2000, to December 31, 2001. Propensity scoring methods were used to mitigate concerns related to non-random assignment of patients to treatments.


The subjects of the study were individuals prescribed metformin or sulfonylurea or both before July 2000, who were prescribed both metformin and sulfonylurea concurrently (either separately or FDC) after August 2000.


Adherence was measured by medication possession ratio; the proportion of days on which a patient had medication available.


The FDC enhanced adherence rates by approximately 13% when compared to a 2-pill regimen.


Compared to 2-pill therapy, a FDC resulted in important increases in patient adherence. Economic analyses are warranted to determine whether the clinical benefits attributable to the adherence gains are worth the incremental cost of a FDC.

Key words

adherence fixed-dose combination drugs prescription medications 

Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Feng Pan
    • 1
  • Michael E. Chernew
    • 2
  • A. Mark Fendrick
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Health Management and PolicyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health Care PolicyHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Internal MedicineUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  4. 4.Department of Health Management and PolicyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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