Ladies Not Taking Brittle Bone Rx

Osteoporosis medication adherence found in only two out of three women

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Many women haven’t been taking their prescriptions to treat bone loss from their osteoporosis. Money may not have anything to do with the lack of following doctor’s orders.

A recent study looked at the prescription records of a group of women with osteoporosis to see if they were taking their medications as prescribed.

The results showed that one in three women with osteoporosis did not pick up their osteoporosis prescriptions from the pharmacy within 2 months from the time it was ordered.

"Talk to your MD about any Rx concerns."

Kristi Reynolds, PhD, MPH, a research scientist at Kaiser Permanente, a healthcare provider in Pasadena, CA, led an investigation into medication adherence for women with osteoporosis.

Inside bone, old bone cells are absorbed and new bone cells are created to maintain strong, healthy bone tissue. Bone loss, also know as osteoporosis, happens when the balance between old bone reabsorption and new bone tissue replacement doesn’t work properly. This lack of balance can lead to brittle bones, which puts a person at risk for bone fractures.

Bisphosphonates are a class of medications used to prevent bone loss in osteoporosis. The following are bisphosphonates: alendronic acid (Fosamax), zoledronic acid (Zometa), pamidronic acid (Aredia) and ibandronic acid (Boniva).

For the study, the researchers looked at the electronic medical records of 8,454 women, aged 55 and older, that were in the Kaiser Permanente health system between 2009 and 2011.

All of the women had been prescribed bisphosphonates by their healthcare providers within the past year. The researchers checked each woman’s pharmacy records to see if she had filled and picked up her bisphosphonate prescription.

The researchers found that 30 percent of the women had not picked up their bisphosphonate prescriptions within 60 days of the prescribing date.

Of the women who did pick up their prescriptions within 60 days, 18 percent did so on the first day, 65 percent did so within 7 days and 81 percent did so within 14 days.

The study results showed that, compared with women who did pick up their new prescriptions, women who did not were taking fewer prescriptions, were less likely to have depression and had fewer medical conditions outside of osteoporosis.

No differences were found in women who picked up their prescriptions versus those who did not based on the following: age, household income, osteoporosis diagnosis or history of bone fracture from fragile bone structure.

Women who picked up their prescriptions were more likely to have received the prescription from a specialist in endocrinology, internal medicine or rheumatology that had been practicing medicine for 10 years or more.

Women who did not pick up their prescriptions were more likely to have received the prescription from a primary care physician that had not been practicing medicine for more than 10 years.

The authors noted that the results of this study were similar to results from other, similar studies.

The authors described a major limitation to this study had the quality of insurance coverage of the women. All of the women had full prescription coverage, so cost was not a barrier to picking up their prescriptions.

Rates of taking osteoporosis medications as prescribed may be even lower in patients with economic barriers to filling their prescriptions.

“These findings suggest that healthcare providers must do a better job of identifying barriers and developing interventions that address the individual patient’s needs and concerns at the time the prescription is ordered,” Dr. Reynolds said in a press release.

This study was published in April in Osteoporosis International.

Amgen Inc. and Kaiser Permanente provided funding for this research. The doctors involved with the study declared financial relationships with Amgen Inc., Genetech, Lilly, Novartis and Pfizer/Wyeth.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 22, 2013
Last Updated:
August 14, 2013