Generic Glaucoma Medications Enhance Adherence

FEBRUARY 11, 2015
Eileen Oldfield, Associate Editor
Switching patients with glaucoma to generic medications can improve their adherence to ophthalmic drug therapies, according to researchers from the University of Michigan (UM) Kellogg Eye Center and College of Pharmacy.
In the study, which was published online February 10, 2015, in Ophthalmology, patients who remained on a brand-name glaucoma drug were 39% more likely to reduce their medication adherence than those who switched to latanoprost, which the researchers attributed to lower prescription co-pays for that newly available generic alternative.
“If clinicians suspect that a patient is struggling with medication adherence, it may be a good idea to switch them from a brand name to a generic drug,” said Joshua D. Stein, MD, MS, a glaucoma specialist at the UM Kellogg Eye Center, in a press release.
Glaucoma patients often struggle with taking their medications as prescribed, despite the risks for blindness and vision loss related to nonadherence, Dr. Stein explained. Common complaints from these patients include difficulties using the drops, complicated education regimens, and misunderstanding adherence consequences.
The results also showed that high brand-name drug co-pays hurt patients’ medication adherence.
“Some of my patients take as many as 3 or 4 different classes of these medications, and a number end up paying as much as $100 out-of-pocket every month for their medication,” Dr. Stein said.
Researchers used a nationwide health care insurance claims database to study 8427 patients with open-angle glaucoma who were treated with prostaglandin analogues. They analyzed medication adherence rates at 18 months before and after latanoprost, the first generic prostaglandin analogue, because available in March 2011.
Approximately 7.3% of participants discontinued treatment when the generic drug was introduced, which researchers could not explain.
Researchers recommended generic alternatives as a method of improving adherence. Pharmacists can be instrumental in monitoring patient adherence, as well as introducing and educating patients about generic versions of brand-name medications.