Nearly one-third of women don't fill new osteoporosis prescriptions, study finds

PASADENA, Calif. — A new study by Kaiser Permanente finds that a large percentage of women with osteoporosis fail to pick up new prescriptions for the condition.

The study, which was based on the electronic health records of 8,454 women ages 55 years and older who were Kaiser Permanente Southern California members between December 2009 and March 2011 and were prescribed a new bisphosphonate medication, found that 29.5% of them did not pick up their prescription within 60 days of the order date. The problem was particularly acute among older women and those who used the emergency department in the prior year, but women taking other prescription drugs and those who had been hospitalized in the prior year were more likely to pick up their prescription. The same was true of women who had received their prescription from a doctor practicing at Kaiser Permanente for 10 years or longer.

"Although bisphosphonates have been proven to reduce the risk of osteoporotic fracture, low adherence to these medications is common, which contributes to serious and costly health problems," Kaiser Permanente scientist and lead study author Kristi Reynolds said. "This study simultaneously examined patient and prescribing provider characteristics and helped identify certain factors associated with why patients failed to pick up their new prescriptions."

The study was published this week in the journal Osteoporosis International.