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NAQC Newsroom: Research

Direct Observation of Medicaid Beneficiary Attempts to Fill Prescriptions for Nicotine Replacement M

Monday, May 14, 2018  
Posted by: Natalia Gromov
Richter KP, Shergina E, Grodie A, Massey JK, Ellerbeck EF, Applegate A, Faseru B.
Direct Observation of Medicaid Beneficiary Attempts to Fill Prescriptions for Nicotine Replacement Medications.
J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2018 Apr 21. pii: S1544-3191(18)30133-X. doi: 10.1016/j.japh.2018.03.006. [Epub ahead of print]

OBJECTIVES:  Although many states have expanded Medicaid coverage of cessation medications, utilization remains low. Anecdotal reports suggest that beneficiaries are at times denied coverage of cessation medications at the pharmacy counter. We conducted an observational community-wide case study of Medicaid beneficiary attempts to fill over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy at pharmacies. METHODS:  We recruited tobacco-using beneficiaries from a Federally Qualified Health Center, whose providers wrote paper prescriptions for nicotine patches. Study staff escorted beneficiaries to all eligible pharmacies (n = 18) in a Midwestern community to observe fill attempts. Study staff recorded encounters via smartphone into a secure database on a university server. RESULTS:  Seven of 18 pharmacies (39%) did not fill the prescription on the day of the attempt. Of these, 6 offered to order the patch for pick-up at a later date. All (4/4) chain pharmacies filled the prescription; 2/3 mass merchant pharmacies failed to fill. Combining successful same-day fills with offers to order for pick-up, 17/18 (94%) would ultimately have been able to obtain patches. CONCLUSION:  This pilot study found that many beneficiaries left pharmacies without a prescription in hand. Successful same-day fills varied markedly by store type. For people with low incomes, transportation presents a major barrier for delayed pick-up. In addition, delays can fuel ambivalence toward quitting. Future research based on this pilot study might address whether patients who fail to secure a same-day prescription ever fill the prescription and, if not, the degree to which this barrier contributes to success or failure in quitting.

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