Background: In Australia, "continued dispensing" (CD) is a new model for supply of prescription medications. Under specific circumstances, community pharmacists are allowed to dispense a further one month supply of prescription only medications without a valid prescription. It allows continuation and treatment adherence when patients run out of statin and/or oral contraceptive (OC) medications, when it is not practical or they fail to plan accordingly to get a new prescription.
Objective: The aim of this study was to explore patient attitudes towards a CD model, including any perceived concerns or associated risks with CD prior to its introduction. Methods: An Australia-wide computer-assisted telephone interview survey of statin and OC users aged 18 years or older was conducted in July 2013 prior to implementation of the CD model. A telephone number list was generated via a random number generation function based on a broad breakdown of the Australian population as outlined in the June 2013 Australian Bureau of Statistics data. The sample target for the survey was 300, consisting of 150 statin users and 150 OC users.
Results: There were a total of 301 respondents, comprising 151 statin users and 150 OC users. Approximately 37% of all respondents had experienced running out of their medications in the past 12 months, of whom 35.4% had temporarily stopped treatment and 33.6% requested their medication from a pharmacist without a valid prescription. OC users were more likely to run out of their medications (P=0.021). The majority of respondents had a regular pharmacy (86%) and therefore would be eligible for CD in the future. The majority of those surveyed had no concerns about CD or perceived it as posing no risks. Concerns raised included consultation privacy and the pharmacist's lack of access to their medical records.
Conclusion: Australian users of statin and OC medications showed a high level of support for C.D. Given that a significant proportion of patients temporarily stopped treatment when they ran out of medications and had no valid prescription, implementation of CD may alleviate the negative consequences of therapy interruption in statin and OC users in the short term. Longer-term solutions and opportunities to expand CD require further exploration.