Analysis of naloxone access and primary medication nonadherence in a community pharmacy setting

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Background: Access to naloxone is a primary public health strategy to prevent opioid overdose death. Factors associated with primary medication nonadherence (PMN) to naloxone are underreported in the literature. Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate naloxone dispensing trends and PMN in a community pharmacy setting. Methods: This retrospective analysis included patients of a community pharmacy chain in Maine and New Hampshire (57 and 29 pharmacy locations, respectively) for whom a claim for a naloxone prescription was billed between January 1, 2019, and July 31, 2020. Results: A total of 2152 patients associated with 2606 naloxone claims were identified for analysis. A majority of the subjects were women (52.7%) and the mean age of all the subjects was 46.4 ± 16.0 years. Of the 2606 naloxone claims, 565 prescriptions were returned to stock and never dispensed to the patient for a PMN rate of 21.7%. Gender and age were not associated with naloxone PMN. Factors associated with naloxone PMN were urban location [x2(1) = 12.49, P = 0.0004], concomitant opioid analgesic [x2(1) = 4.56, P = 0.0328], and payment method [x2(4) = 251.07, P < 0.0001]. Regarding payment method, nonadherence was higher among cash (138 of 386, 35.8%) and private insurance (191 of 455, 42.0%) transactions whereas lower among Medicare (132 of 681, 19.4%) and Medicaid (89 of 899, 9.9%) transactions. Concomitant buprenorphine [x2(1) = 44.57, P < 0.0001] and the use of a naloxone standing order [x2(1) = 4.79, P = 0.0162] were associated with primary adherence to take-home naloxone. Conclusion: A notable portion of naloxone prescribed and filled in the community pharmacy setting was never obtained by the patient. Factors associated with PMN in this study included geographic location, use of a standing order, concomitant prescriptions for buprenorphine or opioid analgesic medications, and payment method. Underlying causes of PMN must be addressed (e.g., removing financial barriers and optimizing the use of standing orders) to increase naloxone access for persons at risk of opioid overdose.

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Journal of the American Pharmacists Association