Buying medicine by mail helps patients adhere to the medication regimen as advised by their doctor, a new American research has found.
The study conducted by researchers from UCLA and Kaiser Permanente's Division of Research in Oakland, California has been published online in the American Journal of Managed Care.
The team discovered that diabetics and high blood pressure and high cholesterol patients ordering their medications by mail were more likely to take them as prescribed by their doctors than patients who bought medications from a local pharmacy.
Lead researcher Dr. O. Kenrik Duru, assistant professor in the division of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, said: The field of medication adherence research typically focuses on patient factors for poor adherence, leading to a 'blame the patient' approach for non-adherence."
He continued: "Our work helps to place this issue in a larger perspective.
"Our findings indicate that mail-order pharmacies streamline the medication-acquisition process, which is associated with better medication adherence."
The study that took 12 months to complete saw researchers analysing medication refill data from 2006 and 2007 for 13,922 Kaiser Permanente members in Northern California.
Having medication available and on-hand at least 80 percent of the time was defined as "good adherence".
It was seen that 84.7 percent of patients who received their medications by mail followed their physician-prescribed regimen at least two-thirds of the time, compared with 76.9 percent of those who purchased their medications at traditional "brick-and-mortar" Kaiser Permanente pharmacies.
Co-investigator Julie A. Schmittdiel, Ph.D., a research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente research division, said: "The results were consistent for all three classes of medication, including medications to control diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol."
Duru added: "In other words, our study is able to isolate the use of mail-order pharmacies specifically, without the results being affected by differences in cost or in the number of pills provided with each dispensing."