According to payer claims data including national chains, independent, and mail-order pharmacies across all 50 states, prescription fill rates for an experimental COVID-19 medication class, antimalarials, have spiked since March. In comparison, what about the nation’s top ten prescribed medications typically used for maintenance therapy of chronic conditions?
A research letter in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) demonstrates that antimalarial prescription counts have exceeded the top ten prescribed medications from 2019. The top ten medications prescribed include anti-hypertensives and other heart related conditions, anti-seizure medications, anti-gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) agents, antidepressants, and thyroid regulators.1
If long-term therapies are to be used daily, often for a lifetime, what may have caused such a severe dip in fill rates? The many effects of COVID-19 quickly come to mind. One theory is the patient’s loss of insurance due to unemployment; another is reduced contact with prescribing clinicians, and finally restricted access to pharmacies. Fortunately, all three scenarios have potential solutions and tools that should be examined in closer detail.
There are many great EHR tools available to help patients save money on their medications. Veradigm offers RxTruePrice, a solution that helps clinicians find cost-effective options for their patients at a convenient locations, without regard to private insurance. Although many clinician offices were or continue to be closed for in-person visits, Practice Fusion is proud to offer Updox, a telehealth solution that allows patients to be seen from the privacy of their own home at any time.
Pharmacies across the nation have worked around the clock to be able to stay open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Some pharmacies have changed or reduced hours, but they are available for prescription pickup and delivery services at select locations. You may have noticed that pharmacies have added marks on the ground to comply with social distances, reduced clicks on keypad for checkout, and even added plexiglass screens to help protect patients and the pharmacy staff members from any unnecessary spread of virus.
Continuing to take chronic medications as prescribed is a vital part of health maintenance. Forgetting to take your medications, choosing to invest elsewhere, or even rationing your supply can lead to unnecessary hospitalizations and illness. Pharmacists and clinicians can play a role in reminding patients about the importance of medication adherence by sending text reminders, spending more time counseling on proper use and possible side effects, and creating a positive atmosphere that allow patients to feel comfortable.
Veradigm understands the challenges clinicians and patients face at all steps of the healthcare journey starting with making an appointment and ending with a positive health outcome.