Pharmacy World and Science

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 26–31 | Cite as

Unclaimed prescriptions after automated prescription transmittals to pharmacies

  • Anders Ekedahl
  • Niclas Månsson


Objective: To assess the extent of and the reasons for unclaimed prescriptions, primary non-compliance, after automated transmittals to pharmacies.

Methods: Cross-sectional study in 3 health care districts (population 240,000) in the southernmost of Sweden on unclaimed electronic prescriptions (e-prescriptions), transmitted to 21 pharmacies during the period of 3 months (2000) and semi-structured interview study with patients not claiming their e-prescriptions transmitted to 4 pharmacies during a period of 3 weeks (2001).

Main outcome measure: Proportion of unclaimed e-prescriptions of total number of (dispensed and unclaimed) e-prescriptions and reasons for primary non-compliance.

Results: In total, 2171 (2.4%) e-prescriptions remained unclaimed at the pharmacies. The peak non-redemption rate was observed for those 15–24 years old (5.5%). The lowest rate was observed for those 65–74 years old. Men had a higher non-redemption rate than women. The highest rate for men was observed 25–34 years old (6.6%). Drugs for the musculo-skeletal system (ATC group M) had higher non-redemption rates than expected (3.9%), and antibiotics (ATC-group J) lower (1.7%). Adolescents and young adults, 15–24 years old, had high non-compliance rates for drugs for the musculo-skeletal system (14%) and anti-asthmatic drugs (11%). Of 78 interviewed patients, not claiming their e-prescriptions, 61% reported no need to have the prescription dispensed. However, unintentional non-compliance was reported by 28%, most of them were not aware that a prescription had been transmitted to the pharmacy. Thirteen percent reported that non-redemption had given further medical problems or made obtaining a new prescription necessary.

Conclusion: Primary non-compliance was generally low, but there were differences related to age, gender and type of drugs. The most common reason reported for non-redemption was that the prescription was not needed, but some patients were unaware that prescriptions were issued and transmitted to the pharmacy.

Community pharmacy Electronic prescriptions Initial non-compliance Non-redemption rate Primary non-compliance Unclaimed prescriptions Sweden 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Gardner TL, Dovey SM, Tilyard MW, Gurr E. Differences between prescribed and dispensed medications. N Z Med J 1996; 109: 69–72.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Jones I, Britten N. Why do some patients not cash their prescriptions? Br J Gen Pract 1998; 48: 903–5.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Fincham JE, Wertheimer AI. Using the health belief model to predict initial drug therapy defaulting. Soc Sci Med 1985; 20: 101–5.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    McCaffrey DJ, Smith MC, Banahan BF. Why prescriptions go unclaimed. US Pharm 1993; 58, 60, 62, 64–5.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ekedahl A, Wessling A, Melander A. Primary non-compliance with automated prescription transmittals from health care centres in Sweden. J Soc Adm Pharm 2002; 19: 137–40.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Watts RW, McLennan G, Bassham I, El-Saadi O. Do patients with asthma fill their prescriptions? A primary compliance study. Aust Fam Physician 1997; 26(Suppl) 1: S4–6.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Skutnik S, Katsanis LP. Impact of initial non-compliance in Canadian retail pharmacies: Descriptive examination. J Pharm Mark Manage 1997; 11(4): 35–54.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Schafheutle EI, Hassell K, Seston M, Noyce PR. Non-dispensing of NHS prescriptions in community pharmacies. Int J Pharm Pract 2002; 3: 11–6.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Kirking MH, Zaleon CR, Kirking DM. Unclaimed prescriptions at a university hospital's ambulatory care pharmacy. Am J Health Syst Pharm 1995; 52: 490–5.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Craghead RM, Wartski DM. Effect of automated prescription transmittal on number of unclaimed prescriptions. Am J Hosp Pharm 1989; 46: 310–2.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Craghead RM, Wartski DM. An evaluative study of unclaimed prescriptions. Hosp Pharm 1991; 26: 616–7, 632.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kirking MH, Kirking DM. Evaluation of unclaimed prescriptions in an ambulatory care pharmacy. Hosp Pharm 1993; 28: 90–1, 94, 102.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Katz EF, Segal HJ. Unclaimed prescriptions. Hosp Adm Canada 1971; 13: 50–94.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Kubota M, Nakamura T, Ogura Y, Oshima M, Nabeshima T et al. Research and countermeasure to unreceived medicines in Nagoya University Hospital. Jpn J Hosp Pharm 1993; 19: 84–91.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Al-Yamani MJMS. Unclaimed prescriptions in a teaching hospital in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Pharm J 1998; 6: 255–61.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Leu S, Eng K. Determination of unclaimed prescriptions at an outpatient department, Songklanagarind Hospital. J Pharm Pract 1999; 12: 433–40.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Beardon PH, McGilchrist MM, McKendrick AD, McDevitt DG, MacDonald TM. Primary non-compliance with prescribed medication in primary care. BMJ 1993; 307: 846–8.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Mateos Campos R, Camacho Alvarez M. Noncompliance with the medical prescription in primary care in a rural setting. Aten Primaria 1997; 19(1): 41–6. [in Spanish].Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Waters WH, Gould NV, Lunn JE. Undispensed prescriptions in a mining general practice. BMJ 1976; 1: 1062–3.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Loong TW. Primary non-compliance in a Singapore polyclinic. Singapore Med J 1999; 40: 691–3.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Saunders CE. Patient compliance in filling prescriptions after discharge from the emergency department. Am J Emerg Med 1987; 5: 283–6.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Bazargan M, Barbre AR, Hamm V. Failure to have prescriptions filled among Black elderly. J Aging Health 1993; 5: 264–82.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Matsui D, Joubert GI, Dykxhoorn S, Rieder MJ. Compliance with prescription filling in the pediatric emergency department. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2000; 154: 195–8.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Gerdtham UG, Hertzman P, Jonsson B, Boman G. Impact of inhaled corticosteroids on acute asthma hospitalization in Sweden 1978 to 1991. Med Care 1996; 34: 1188–98.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Anis AH, Lynd LD, Wang XH, King G, Spinelli JJ, Fitzgerald M et al. Double trouble: Impact of inappropriate use of asthma medication on the use of health care resources. Can Med Ass J 2001; 164: 625–31.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Shireman TI, Heaton PC, Gay WE, Cluxton RJ, Moomaw CJ. Relationship between asthma drug therapy patterns and healthcare utilization. Ann Pharmacother 2002; 36: 557–64.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Hartert TV, Togias A, Mellen BG, Mitchel EF, Snowden MS, Griffin MR. Underutilization of controller and rescue medications among older adults with asthma requiring hospital care. J Am Geriatr Soc 2000; 48: 651–7.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Thomas EJ, Burstin HR, O'Neil AC, Orav EJ, Brennan TA. Patient noncompliance with medical advice after the emergency department visit. Ann Emerg Med 1996; 27: 49–55.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Lash S, Harding J. Abandoned prescriptions: Quantitative assessment of their cause. J Man Care Pharm 1995; 1: 193–9.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Dong BJ, McCart GM, Lynch SS. Reducing unclaimed prescriptions through pharmacist intervention. Hosp Pharm 1998; 33: 841–6.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Tavitian SM, Kidder PA, Shane R. Contacting patients with unclaimed prescriptions: The pharmacist's impact on drug therapy concordance. Hosp Pharm 2001; 36: 1060–5.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Secnik K, Pathak DS, Cohen JM. Postcard and telephone reminders for unclaimed prescriptions: a comparative evaluation using survival analysis. J Am Pharm Ass 2000; 31: 243–51.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anders Ekedahl
    • 1
  • Niclas Månsson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Community MedicineLund University, Sweden and The National Corporation of Swedish Pharmacies, Apoteket VipanMalmöSweden
  2. 2.Medical Products AgencyUppsalaSweden

Personalised recommendations