To the Editor: Direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) can influence the use of prescription drugs.1,2 The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates prescription drug advertising, including requirements to provide consumers with a ‚"fair balance"‚ of risks and benefits. When prescription drugs switch to over-the-counter (OTC) status, regulatory oversight of their advertising shifts to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Unlike the FDA, the FTC holds drug advertisements to the same standards as any consumer product: it applies a ‚"reasonable consumer"‚ standard of truthfulness and nondeception that does not require any balancing of potential benefits and harms. Such a shift may be associated with changes in content.
On January 31, 2012, Pfizer recalled nearly 1 million packs of birth control pills because of concerns that inert and active pills were miscounted and incorrectly ordered in their blister packs.1 This and other recent recalls highlight concerns about the potential clinical impact of defective and otherwise compromised drug products. However, little is known about the public health burden of drug recalls and whether health care providers are properly notified about clinically important recalls. We sought to quantify the frequency, cause, and extent of distribution of drug recalls in the United States and to evaluate the processes by which the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) communicates clinically important recall information to health care providers.
BACKGROUND: In January 2008, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) communicated concerns about the efficacy of ezetimibe, but did not provide clear clinical guidance, and substantial media attention ensued. We investigated the proportion of patients who discontinued therapy and switched to a clinically appropriate alternative after the FDA communication. METHODS: : Using claims data from a national pharmacy benefits manager, we created a rolling cohort of new users of ezetimibe between January 2006 and August 2008 and created a supply diary for each patient in the year after cohort entry. A patient was identified as nonpersistent if a gap of 90 days was seen in the diary. Using segmented linear regression, we compared rates of nonpersistence before and after the FDA communication and assessed patient-level characteristics associated with discontinuation. Among nonpersistent patients, we determined whether a patient made a clinically appropriate switch in the subsequent 90 days by adding a new cholesterol-lowering medication or by increasing the dose of an existing one. We used a weighted t test to compare the rates of appropriate switching before and after the communication. RESULTS: : Among 867,027 new ezetimibe users, 407,006 (46.9%) were nonpersistent in the first year. After the FDA communication, the monthly level of ezetimibe nonpersistence increased by 5.7 percentage points (P<0.0001). Younger patients, those who lived in low-income zip codes, and female patients were less likely to discontinue therapy (P<0.0001 for all). Among nonpersistent patients, rates of clinically appropriate switching increased from 10.8% before to 16.5% after the FDA warning (P=0.004). CONCLUSIONS: : A substantial increase in ezetimibe nonpersistence rates was seen after an FDA communication regarding its efficacy and following associated media attention, and a small proportion of patients made a clinically appropriate switch after discontinuation. Further consideration is needed to deliver messages that promote appropriate use of chronic therapy rather than simply reduce use.
OBJECTIVES To determine whether adherence interventions should be administered to all medication takers or targeted to nonadherers. DATA SOURCES AND STUDY SELECTION Systematic search (Medline and Embase, 1966-2009) of randomized controlled trials of interventions to improve adherence to medications for preventing or treating cardiovascular disease or diabetes. DATA EXTRACTION Articles were classified as (1) broad interventions (targeted all medication takers), (2) focused interventions (targeted nonadherers), or (3) dynamic interventions (administered to all medication takers; real-time adherence information targets nonadherers as intervention proceeds). Cohen's d effect sizes were calculated. DATA SYNTHESIS We identified 7,190 articles; 59 met inclusion criteria. Broad interventions were less likely (18%) to show medium or large effects compared with focused (25%) or dynamic (32%) interventions. Of the 33 dynamic interventions, 6 used externally generated adherence data to target nonadherers. Those with externally generated data were less likely to have a medium or large effect (20% vs. 34.8% self-generated data). CONCLUSION Adherence interventions targeting nonadherers are heterogeneous but may have advantages over broad interventions. Dynamic interventions show promise and require further study.
BACKGROUND: In the treatment of patients with refractory atrial fibrillation (AF), the safety and efficacy of atrioventricular nodal ablation (AVNA) versus pharmacotherapy alone remains unclear. Additionally, the impact of AVNA in patients with reduced systolic function is of growing interest. METHODS AND RESULTS: A total of 5 randomized or prospective trials were included for efficacy review (314 patients), 11 studies for effectiveness review (810 patients), and 47 studies for safety review (5632 patients). All-cause mortality was similar between AVNA and medical therapy (3.1% versus 3.3%; relative risk ratio, 1.05; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.29-3.85). There was no significant difference in exercise duration or ejection fraction (EF) with AVNA relative to pharmacotherapy. In subgroup analysis, patients with baseline systolic dysfunction (116 patients; mean EF, 44%) showed significant relative improvement in EF after AVNA (+4% greater; 95% CI, 3.11-4.89). In pooled observational analysis, AVNA was also associated with significant improvement in EF only in patients with systolic dysfunction (+7.44%; 95% CI, 5.4-9.5). The incidence of procedure-related mortality (0.27%) and malignant arrhythmia (0.57%) was low. At mean follow-up of 26.5 months, the incidence of sudden cardiac death after AVNA was 2.1%. There was significant heterogeneity in quality-of-life scales used; compared with pharmacotherapy, AVNA was associated with significant improvement in several symptoms (palpitations, dyspnea). CONCLUSIONS: In the management of refractory AF, AVNA is associated with improvement in symptoms and quality of life, with a low incidence of procedure morbidity. In patients with reduced systolic function, AVNA demonstrates small but significantly improved echocardiographic outcomes relative to medical therapy alone.
AIMS: Previous studies have suggested that upstream medical therapy to modulate the renin-angiotensin axis may facilitate left atrial remodelling and thereby prevent new-onset atrial fibrillation (AF). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the association between angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor (ACEI) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB) on new-onset AF in a large cohort of patients with coronary artery disease (CAD). METHODS AND RESULTS: This was a population-based study of 28 620 patients, from community-dwelling Medicare beneficiaries who had been hospitalized for acute myocardial infarction or coronary revascularization (1995‚Äì2004). All patients, 65 years and older, had a mean follow-up period of upto 3.8 ¬± 3.0 years. Patients with a history of AF before and during hospitalization were excluded. ¬†We compared the incidence of new-onset AF between patients who were (N= 10 918) and were not (N= 17 702) prescribed ACEI and/or ARB within 1 month of hospital discharge following cardiac event. New-onset AF within 5 and 10 years was 39.1 and 61.1%, respectively, in patients who received ACEI/ARB, compared¬† 34.9 and 53.6% in patients who did not receive them [unadjusted hazard ratio (HR): 1.16; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.11, 1.21]. Multivariable analysis adjusting for patient- and hospital-related characteristics indicated that ACEI/ARB use independently had no impact on the risk of developing new-onset AF compared with non-users (adjusted HR: 0.99; 95% CI: 0.94, 1.04). Adjustment for propensity-score and health-seeking behaviours yielded nearly identical results. CONCLUSION: Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor/ARB therapy initiated within 1 month after hospital discharge is not associated with a reduction in the risk of new-onset AF after myocardial infarction or coronary revascularization.
BACKGROUND: Disclosure of conflicts of interest in biomedical research is receiving increased attention. The authors sought to define current disclosure policies and how they relate to disclosure statements provided by authors in major oncology journals. METHODS: The authors identified all oncology journals listed in the Thomson Institute for Scientific Information and sought their policies on conflict-of-interest disclosure. For a subset of journals with an Impact Factor >2.0, they catalogued the number and type of articles and the details of the published disclosures in all papers from the 2 most recent issues. RESULTS: Disclosure policies were provided by 112 of 131 journals (85%); 99 (88%) of these requested that authors disclose conflicts of interest (mean Impact Factor for these journals: 4.6), whereas the remaining 13 (12%) did not (mean Impact Factor: 2.9). Ninety-three journals (94%) required financial disclosure, and 42 (42%) also sought nonfinancial disclosures. For a subset of 52 higher-impact journals (Impact Factor >2.0), we reviewed 1734 articles and identified published disclosures in 51 journals (98%). Many of these journals (31 of 51, 61%) included some disclosure statement in >90% of their articles. Among 27 journals that published editorials/commentaries, only 14 (52%) included disclosures with such articles. There was no publication of any nonfinancial conflicts of interest in any article reviewed. CONCLUSIONS: Disclosure policies and the very definition of conflict of interest varied considerably among journals. Although most journals had some policy in this area, a substantial proportion did not publish disclosure statements consistently, with deficiencies particularly among editorials and commentaries.
A substantial threat to the overall health of the American public is nonadherence to medications used to treat diabetes, as well as physicians' failure to initiate patients' use of those medications. To address this problem, we evaluated an integrated, pharmacy-based program to improve patients' adherence and physicians' initiation rates. The study included 5,123 patients with diabetes in the intervention group and 24,124 matched patients with diabetes in the control group. The intervention consisted of outreach from both mail-order and retail pharmacists who had specific information from the pharmacy benefit management company on patients' adherence to medications and use of concomitant therapies. The interventions improved patients' medication adherence rates by 2.1 percent and increased physicians' initiation rates by 38 percent, compared to the control group. The benefits were greater in patients who received counseling in the retail setting than in those who received phone calls from pharmacists based in mail-order pharmacies. This suggests that the in-person interaction between the retail pharmacist and patient contributed to improved behavior. The interventions were cost-effective, with a return on investment of approximately $3 for every $1 spent. These findings highlight the central role that pharmacists can play in promoting the appropriate initiation of and adherence to therapy for chronic diseases.
BACKGROUND: The affordability of prescription medications continues to be a major public health issue in the United States. Estimates of cost-related medication underuse come largely from surveys of ambulatory patients. Hospitalized patients may be vulnerable to cost-related underuse and its consequences, but have been subject to little investigation. OBJECTIVE: To determine impact of medication costs in a cohort of hospitalized managed care beneficiaries. METHODS: We surveyed consecutive patients admitted to medical services at an academic medical center. Questions about cost-related underuse were based on validated measures; predictors were assessed with multivariable models. Participants were asked about strategies to improve medication affordability, and were contacted after discharge to determine if they had filled newly prescribed medications. RESULTS: One-hundred thirty (41%) of 316 potentially eligible patients participated; 93 (75%) of these completed postdischarge surveys. Thirty patients (23%) reported cost-related underuse in the year prior to admission. In adjusted analyses, patients of black race were 3.39 times (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.05 to 11.02) more likely to report cost-related underuse than non-Hispanic white patients. Virtually all respondents (n = 123; 95%) endorsed at least 1 strategy to make medications more affordable. Few (16%) patients, prescribed medications at discharge, knew how much they would pay at the pharmacy. Almost none had spoken to their inpatient (4%) or outpatient (2%) providers about the cost of newly prescribed drugs. CONCLUSIONS: Cost-related underuse is common among hospitalized patients. Individuals of black race appear to be particularly at risk. Strategies should be developed to address this issue around the time of hospital discharge. Journal of Hospital Medicine 2011. (c) 2011 Society of Hospital Medicine.
OBJECTIVES: We sought to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of applying the JUPITER (Justification for the Use of statins in Prevention: an Intervention Trial Evaluating Rosuvastatin) trial results into clinical practice. BACKGROUND: The JUPITER trial found that rosuvastatin reduces vascular events in apparently healthy subjects with elevated high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) but normal low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. The implications of expanding treatment recommendations based on these results have not been evaluated. METHODS: We constructed a cost-effectiveness model of men >/=50 years and women >/=60 years with LDL cholesterol levels of <130 mg/dl and no known cardiovascular disease. We compared: 1) hs-CRP testing followed by rosuvastatin treatment for patients with hs-CRP levels >/=2.0 mg/l; and 2) usual care (i.e., no testing and no treatment). Estimates of treatment effectiveness were based on the JUPITER trial and were varied in sensitivity analyses. RESULTS: Among patients with LDL <130 mg/dl and hs-CRP levels >/=2.0 mg/l, rosuvastatin had an incremental cost-effectiveness of $25,198 per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gained compared to usual care. If the effectiveness of rosuvastatin were 50% of that observed in JUPITER, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio would increase to $50,871 per QALY. Implementing this strategy only in patients with a Framingham risk score >/=10% yielded an incremental cost-effectiveness of $14,205 per QALY. Among such intermediate-risk patients, a JUPITER-based strategy becomes cost-saving at a rosuvastatin price of <$0.86 per day. CONCLUSIONS: Rosuvastatin treatment for JUPITER-eligible patients appears to be cost-effective, particularly among those with a Framingham risk score >/=10%.
BACKGROUND: Patients with chronic disease often take many medications multiple times per day. Such regimen complexity is associated with medication nonadherence. Other factors, including the number of pharmacy visits patients make to pick up their prescriptions, may also undermine adherence. Our objective was to estimate the extent of prescribing and filling complexity in patients prescribed a cardiovascular medication and to evaluate its association with adherence. METHODS: The study population comprised individuals prescribed a statin (n = 1 827 395) or an angiotensin- converting enzyme inhibitor or renin angiotensin receptor blocker (ACEI/ARB) (n = 1 480 304) between June 1, 2006, and May 30, 2007. We estimated complexity by measuring the number of medications, prescribers, pharmacies, pharmacy visits, and refill consolidation (a measure of the number of visits per fill) during the 3 months from the first prescription. The number of daily doses was also measured in ACEI/ARB users. After this period, adherence was evaluated over the subsequent year. The relationship between complexity and adherence was assessed with multivariable linear regression. RESULTS: The statin cohort had a mean age of 63 years and were 49% male. On average, during the 3-month complexity assessment period, statin users filled 11.4 prescriptions for 6.3 different medications, had prescriptions written by 2 prescribers, and made 5.0 visits to the pharmacy. Results for ACEI/ARB users were similar. Greater prescribing and filling complexity was associated with lower levels of adherence. In adjusted models, patients with the least refill consolidation had adherence rates that were 8% lower over the subsequent year than patients with the greatest refill consolidation. CONCLUSION: Medication use and prescription filling for patients with cardiovascular disease is complex, and strategies to reduce this complexity may help improve medication adherence.
Background Adherence to medications that are prescribed after myocardial infarction is poor. Eliminating out-of-pocket costs may increase adherence and improve outcomes. Methods We enrolled patients discharged after myocardial infarction and randomly assigned their insurance-plan sponsors to full prescription coverage (1494 plan sponsors with 2845 patients) or usual prescription coverage (1486 plan sponsors with 3010 patients) for all statins, beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors, or angiotensin-receptor blockers. The primary outcome was the first major vascular event or revascularization. Secondary outcomes were rates of medication adherence, total major vascular events or revascularization, the first major vascular event, and health expenditures. Results Rates of adherence ranged from 35.9 to 49.0% in the usual-coverage group and were 4 to 6 percentage points higher in the full-coverage group (P<0.001 for all comparisons). There was no significant between-group difference in the primary outcome (17.6 per 100 person-years in the full-coverage group vs. 18.8 in the usual-coverage group; hazard ratio, 0.93; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.82 to 1.04; P=0.21). The rates of total major vascular events or revascularization were significantly reduced in the full-coverage group (21.5 vs. 23.3; hazard ratio, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.90 to 0.99; P=0.03), as was the rate of the first major vascular event (11.0 vs. 12.8; hazard ratio, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.74 to 0.99; P=0.03). The elimination of copayments did not increase total spending ($66,008 for the full-coverage group and $71,778 for the usual-coverage group; relative spending, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.50 to 1.56; P=0.68). Patient costs were reduced for drugs and other services (relative spending, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.68 to 0.80; P<0.001). Conclusions The elimination of copayments for drugs prescribed after myocardial infarction did not significantly reduce rates of the trial's primary outcome. Enhanced prescription coverage improved medication adherence and rates of first major vascular events and decreased patient spending without increasing overall health costs. (Funded by Aetna and the Commonwealth Fund; MI FREEE ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00566774 .).
BACKGROUND: Patient nonadherence to prescribed medication is common and limits the effectiveness of treatment for many conditions. Most adherence studies evaluate behavior only among patients who have filled a first prescription. The advent of electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) systems provides the opportunity to track initial prescriptions and identify nonadherence that may have previously been undetected. METHODS: We analyzed e-prescribing data and filled claims for all patients with CVS Caremark (Woonsocket, RI) drug coverage who received e-prescriptions from the iScribe e-prescribing system in calendar 2008. We matched e-prescriptions with filled claims by using data on the drug name, date of e-prescription, and date of filled claims, allowing up to 180 days for patients to fill e-prescriptions. We evaluated the rate of primary nonadherence to newly prescribed medications across multiple characteristics of patients, prescribers, and prescriptions and developed multivariable models to identify predictors of nonadherence. RESULTS: We identified 423,616 e-prescriptions for new medications, with 3634 prescribers and 280,081 patients. The primary nonadherence rate was 24.0%. Several factors were associated with nonadherence to e-prescriptions, including nonformulary status of medications (odds ratio [OR] 1.31 compared with preferred medications; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.26-1.36; P<.001) and residence in a low-income ZIP code (OR 1.23 compared with high-income ZIP code; 95% CI, 1.17-1.30; P<.001) Nonadherence occurred less often when e-prescriptions were transmitted directly to the pharmacy rather than printed to give to patients (OR 0.54; 95% CI, 0.52-0.57; P<.001). CONCLUSION: 24% of e-prescriptions for new medications were not filled. Our results suggest that interventions to address economic barriers and increase electronic integration in the healthcare system may be promising approaches to improve medication adherence.
SummaryBackground and objectives Although generally recommended in atrial fibrillation (AF) patients, the effectiveness and safety of oral anticoagulation in dialysis patients with AF is unknown.Design, setting, participants, & measurements We assembled a cohort of older hemodialysis patients who initiated dialysis without prior record of AF and who had prescription drug benefits through three state-administered programs. The index event was a first hospitalization with diagnosed AF; patients with any recorded prior warfarin use were excluded. Eligible patients survived >/=30 days from discharge, and new warfarin use was recorded from prescription records during that 30-day window. Propensity-matched warfarin users and nonusers were compared using Cox regression. Outcomes included ischemic stroke, hemorrhagic stroke, and mortality.Results Among 2313 patients with new AF who survived 30 days from discharge, 249 (10.8%) filled a prescription for warfarin. Comparing 237 warfarin users and 948 propensity-matched nonusers over 2287 person-years of follow-up, the occurrence of ischemic stroke was similar (HR = 0.92; 95% CI, 0.61 to 1.37), whereas warfarin users experienced twice the risk of hemorrhagic stroke (HR = 2.38; 95% CI, 1.15 to 4.96). The risks of stroke, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, and mortality did not differ between groups. As-treated analyses yielded similar findings, as did analyses restricted to patients with CHADS(2) scores >/=2.Conclusions Although we confirmed association between warfarin use and hemorrhagic stroke in dialysis patients with AF, we found no association between warfarin use and ischemic stroke. Adequately powered randomized trials are required to conclusively determine the risks and benefits of the studied warfarin indication in hemodialysis patients.
BACKGROUND: Medications are a cornerstone of the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease. Long-term medication adherence has been the subject of increasing attention in the developed world but has received little attention in resource-limited settings, where the burden of disease is particularly high and growing rapidly. To evaluate prevalence and predictors of non-adherence to cardiovascular medications in this context, we systematically reviewed the peer-reviewed literature. METHODS: We performed an electronic search of Ovid Medline, Embase and International Pharmaceutical Abstracts from 1966 to August 2010 for studies that measured adherence to cardiovascular medications in the developing world. A DerSimonian-Laird random effects method was used to pool the adherence estimates across studies. Between-study heterogeneity was estimated with an I(2) statistic and studies were stratified by disease group and the method by which adherence was assessed. Predictors of non-adherence were also examined. FINDINGS: Our search identified 2,353 abstracts, of which 76 studies met our inclusion criteria. Overall adherence was 57.5% (95% confidence interval [CI] 52.3% to 62.7%; I(2) 0.98) and was consistent across study subgroups. Studies that assessed adherence with pill counts reported higher levels of adherence (62.1%, 95% CI 49.7% to 73.8%; I(2) 0.83) than those using self-report (54.6%, 95% CI 47.7% to 61.5%; I(2) 0.93). Adherence did not vary by geographic region, urban vs. rural settings, or the complexity of a patient's medication regimen. The most common predictors of poor adherence included poor knowledge, negative perceptions about medication, side effects and high medication costs. INTERPRETATION: Our study indicates that adherence to cardiovascular medication in resource-limited countries is sub-optimal and appears very similar to that observed in resource-rich countries. Efforts to improve adherence in resource-limited settings should be a priority given the burden of heart disease in this context, the central role of medications in their management, and the clinical and economic consequences of non-adherence.