How to Raise Diabetes Drug Adherence


New study shows that a Universal Medication Schedule could help diabetes patients.

Medication scheduling significantly improves adherence to oral diabetes medications, according to a new study.

Researchers at Walgreens and Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago, found that using the Universal Medication Schedule (UMS) is 14% more likely to result in optimal adherence to diabetes medications, they said at the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) meeting in May.

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UMS, which standardizes prescriptions by explicitly stating when to take the medicine (such as morning, noon, evening, bedtime), is designated as a health literacy best practice by the Institute of Medicine and the U.S. Pharmacopeia.

In the retrospective cohort study, researchers reviewed the records of patients 18 years and older who had an initial fill of an oral diabetes medication at a Walgreens pharmacy between January and June of 2014.

The study cohort included 484,758 patients filling new prescriptions for 559,293 oral diabetes medications, according to the poster presented by lead author Michael Taitel, PhD, Senior Director of Health Services and Outcomes Research at Walgreens.

The subgroup of patients at high risk for nonadherence included those taking multiple drugs per day (multidaily doses) and those aged 65 and older. The researchers also looked at patients with less education (around 10% reported less than a ninth-grade education) and those with more education rate (the remainder of the study population).

Among patients with less education, models showed that those who received UMS prescriptions were significantly more likely to have optimal adherence, compared to those who received non-UMS prescriptions.

The biggest gains in optimal adherence were for patients over 65 years old who took multidaily medication regimens.

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Patients with a higher education level were more likely to achieve optimal adherence after receiving UMS prescriptions, but there were no significant differences among subgroups.

“This study demonstrated that UMS prescribing is significantly associated with higher adherence to oral diabetes medications for older adults with low education who also received a multi-daily regimen,” Taitel said.

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