April 1, 2015
More Than 25% of Acne Patients Not Adherent to
Drug Regimen

Winston-Salem, NC—Having one medication prescribed for acne, instead of multiple therapies, increases the chance the script will be filled, according to a new study that finds that 27% of acne patients in a study failed to obtain all of their medications.

The study, published recently by JAMA Dermatology, found that, among the 143 participants with acne, 27% failed to obtain all of their medications, including both prescription drugs and OTC products.

The report, based on research led by Wake Forest Baptist Health dermatologists, found that patients prescribed two medications by their dermatologists had the highest rate of primary nonadherence—either not getting a medication or refusing to use it—at 40%. Those prescribed three or more medications had 31% primary nonadherence, and 9% of those given one prescription failed to fill and/or use it, according to the study.

No statistically significant difference in nonadherence rates by age or gender was found in the three treatment-number groups.

“Non-adherence is a pervasive problem in all of medicine, particularly when treating chronic conditions such as acne,” said co-author Steven R. Feldman, MD, PhD. “A previous study reported a 10% primary non-adherence rate for acne patients, so we were surprised that what we found was more than twice that.”

The study found that being prescribed a topical retinoid or an OTC product also was associated with primary nonadherence. Another finding, although also not statistically significant, was that paper prescriptions were less likely to be filled than electronic ones.

“The study showed that patients are more inclined to follow the treatment regimen when only one medication is prescribed,” Feldman said. “Multiple agents are typically required to address the multiple factors that cause acne, but simplifying treatment regimens by prescribing products that contain two or more active ingredients could prove effective in reducing non-adherence.”

While the study was not designed to determine acne patients’ reasons for failing to get their prescriptions filled, the authors note that many of the participants offered unprompted explanations, including cost, forgetfulness, having similar medication on hand, not agreeing with the prescribed treatment, and improvement of the skin condition.

The authors call for future studies to examine those factors, concluding, “Primary adherence to an acne treatment regimen is better when only one treatment is prescribed. Some patients may not complete acne treatment because one or more of their medications were never obtained.”
U.S. Pharmacist Social Connect