Patients with depression who fell into the Medicare “coverage gap” were more likely to use generic drugs and reduce their use of antidepressants than those patients with full coverage, according to a published study.
Yuting Zhang, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues looked at data from a 5% random sample of depressed Medicare beneficiaries who were enrolled in stand-alone Part 2 plans in 2007.
Zhang and colleagues noted that those patients who had a gap in coverage reduced the number of monthly prescriptions by 12.1% when compared with a group with full coverage. Zhang and colleagues reported similar drops in heart failure drugs and antidiabetics. Even though the researchers noted that the drop in prescriptions did not correlate with an increase in medical care expenses, they cautioned clinicians about the implications of their findings.
“If patients discontinue their appropriate medication therapy abruptly, they could be placing themselves at risk for medication withdrawal effects and for relapse or recurrence,” the researchers wrote. “If they do not notice any effects, they might decide not to resume taking antidepressants. Thus, a gap in drug coverage could place older adults in harm's way, as a result of disruptions in appropriate maintenance antidepressant pharmacotherapy.”
Disclosures: The researchers reported no conflicts of interest.