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Consumers abandon prescriptions, analysis reveals


BRIDGEWATER, N.J. The rate at which consumers drop off prescriptions, but never pick them up, has increased by 34% since 2006, according to a new report by Wolters Kluwer Health.

According to the market research firm’s annual analysis of the U.S. pharmaceutical market, the rate of prescription abandonment increased from an average of 5.15% in 2006 to 6.8% last year. The analysis found that the abandonment increased alongside the amount of the co-pay, especially for new prescriptions. Among prescriptions with co-pays of $100 or more, the abandonment rate is just over 20%, compared with 4% for prescriptions with $10 co-pays.

“Price sensitivity is clearly a factor as consumers decide to forego certain prescriptions altogether, including some for chronic conditions,” Wolters Kluwer Health president and CEO pharma solutions Mark Spiers said. “This disturbing trend may have serious health implications and seems poised to continue especially if the economy deteriorates further.”

The analysis, titled “Pharma Insight,” also found that two-thirds of prescriptions filled will be generic by the end of this year. U.S. prescriptions for generics and branded drugs reached equilibrium in 2005, and then generics continued to build momentum each year thereafter, the data show. Generics constituted more than 60% of all U.S. prescriptions filled last year, with 2.4 billion out of 3.8 billion prescriptions filled with generic drugs.

“We’re close to the point, certainly by the end of 2009, where two-out-of-every-three prescriptions filled will be generic,” Spiers said. “These trends are going to become even more pronounced moving forward as there are many blockbusters in major therapeutic areas like cholesterol reducers due to come off patent in the coming years.”

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