HealthDay News — When pharmacies close, people with heart disease stop taking widely used heart medications, such as statins, beta-blockers, and oral anticoagulants, according to a study published online April 19 in JAMA Network Open.

Dima M. Qato, Pharm.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and colleagues performed comparative interrupted time series analyses using a nationally representative 5 percent random sample of anonymized, longitudinal, individual-level pharmacy claims. Separate cohorts were created for users of statins, beta-blockers, and oral anticoagulants. Data were collected from 3,089,803 adults who filled at least one statin prescription at a retail pharmacy between 2011 and 2016. The authors then compared medication adherence among people who had filled a prescription at a pharmacy that later closed (92,287 individuals) to adherence among individuals whose pharmacy remained open.

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The researchers found that statin users in the closure cohort experienced an immediate and significant decline in statin adherence in the three months after closure that was largely due to the complete discontinuation of medication. Among statin users, 23.8 percent of people in the pharmacy closure cohort did not refill their prescription at any point during the 12-month follow-up period compared with only 12.8 percent in the nonclosure cohort. The findings were similar for patients taking beta-blockers and oral anticoagulants.

“These findings provide strong evidence that pharmacy closures contribute to nonadherence, including among insured older adults,” Qato said in a statement.

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