PHARMACY

Study finds risk of medication discontinuation is greatest for new patients at the start of therapy

BY Allison Cerra

BOSTON A new study published online Friday by Adheris Inc., a provider of direct-to-patient, pharmacy-based programs, found that patients new to chronic disease medication face the greatest risk of medication discontinuation during the first 30 days of treatment— with rates of discontinuation ranging from 29.6% to 78.1%.

Medication discontinuation among 2.17 million patients prescribed agents for asthma, glaucoma, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, breast cancer, and high cholesterol was measured over one year following the initial prescription. Patients considered new to therapy included both newly-diagnosed patients and patients restarting treatment after a lapse of six or more months.

Overall rates of discontinuation for such patients were 12 times greater in the first month of treatment than during any subsequent month, the study found. Additional key kindings included:

  • Discontinuation was most rapid among patients prescribed asthma inhalers, asthma pills, and glaucoma drops
  • Intermediate discontinuation rates for patients prescribed medications for breast cancer, diabetes (insulin), and osteoporosis
  • The least rapid rates were found for patients prescribed medications for cardiovascular illness, high cholesterol, and oral medications for diabetes
  • Three-out-of-four medication classes most likely to be discontinued were all non-oral medications (inhaled steroids, glaucoma drops, and insulin injections).

According to lead author Mark Vanelli, M.D., MHS, Chief Medical Officer at Adheris and Harvard Medical School faculty member, “This study has clear and practical implications for improving routine clinical care and helping reduce healthcare costs. It pinpoints the need to provide patients who are new to medication or resuming medication after a lapse, with better education and follow-up during the first 30 days of treatment irrespective of the medication class prescribed.”

Click here to read the full study.

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PHARMACY

Sandoz introduces hypertension generic

BY Alaric DeArment

PRINCETON, N.J. The generics arm of Swiss drug maker Novartis has introduced a version of a hypertension drug.

Sandoz announced the introduction of the injected drug nicardipine, a generic version of EKR Therapeutics’ Cardene, in 2.5 mg vials. The drug is designed for the short-term management of hypertension when treatment with orally administered drugs is not feasible.

Cardene had sales of $200 million during the 12-month period ended in September, according to IMS Health.

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Study finds life expectancy for young adults diminished by obesity

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Though the number of Americans who smoke has decreased dramatically in recent years, increases in obesity threaten to erase potential gains in the average life expectancy of young adults, according to a new study.

A team of researchers, led by Susan Stewart of the nonprofit National Bureau of Economic Research, published the study Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine, forecasting the life expectancy of the average 18-year-old between 2005 and 2020 by comparing data on smoking and obesity.

The researchers used National Health Interview Survey data on smoking from two-year intervals between 1978 and 2006, as well as past trends in body-mass index based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in four- to six-year intervals between 1971 and 2006. They also factored in the 2003 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to examine the effects of smoking and body-mass index on health-related quality of life.

While declining rates of smoking would increase the average life expectancy of 18-year-olds, increasing rates of obesity would push it back down by eight to 11 months, the researchers found. By contrast, if all adults in the United States became nonsmokers of normal weight, life expectancies would increase by up to five years.

“If past obesity trends continue unchecked, the negative effects on the health of the U.S. population will increasingly outweigh the positive effects gained from declining smoking rates,” the authors wrote. “Failure to address continued increases in obesity could result in an erosion of the pattern of steady gains in health observed since early in the 20th century.”

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