Number of unfilled scrips approaches 15%

Congratulations! Your quality products, savvy advertising and canny sales reps have put new prescriptions in patients' hands. But what if those scrips never make it out of a pharmacy?

That's exactly what's happening--more often than ever. According to a new report, the number of prescriptions never picked up from the pharmacy grew by 24 percent in 2009--and it's up a full 68 percent since 2006. A full 8.6 percent of new prescriptions for branded meds are abandoned at the drugstore, according to Wolters Kluwer Pharma Solutions. Meanwhile, the number of filled prescriptions rose just 2.8 percent. 

In a troubled economy, people tend to put off adding new drugs to their regimens. But this is different, experts say. "What's peculiar is that the rate of increase among patients walking away is almost unprecedented," Dea Belasi, consulting practice leader at Wolters Kluwer Pharma Solutions tells Medical Marketing & Media. "The [abandonment] trend that we are seeing is just going up and up and up." And if you add insurance-coverage denials to the mix, almost 15 percent of new prescriptions are going unfilled, MM&M reports. 

What can drugmakers do? First, learn all they can about the change; for instance, abandonment is most prevalent in Delaware, North Carolina and Florida, while the highest rates of insurance denials happened in California, Delaware and Florida. Then, come up with strategies--such as coupons or vouchers--to help people pay for their meds in those areas. Any other ideas? Let us know.

- see the Wolters Kluwer release
- read the MM&M story