While different organisations may employ a range of prescription times most people in pharmacist jobs or with the power to prescribe will give their patients around a month's supply of their medication.
This is a standard which is followed in many countries around the world, however, according to a new study it could be more effective to offer longer prescription times.
Research conducted at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and Women's College Hospital (WCH) in Canada has found that elderly cardiac patients who are prescribed heart medications for 60 days or more after leaving hospital are four times more likely to stick this drug regime in comparison to those who prescribed the same medication for 30 days.
The study, which has been published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology suggest that prescriptions which cover a longer interval of time are more effective and patient-centred.
Researchers investigated the medication adherence of more than 20,000 elderly patients who were receiving three common classes of cardiac medication and over an 18-month period they compared the results of those who were prescribed medication for 30 days, 30-60 days and for 60 days or more.
Those who were prescribed the medication for the longest were found more likely to adhere to the medication, with older men found to be the least likely to take their prescription regularly.
Regardless of their prescription length more than 80 per cent of participants still had a follow-up appointment within one month of receiving their medication.
Commenting on the results, Dr Noah Ivers, lead author of the study and family physician at WCH said that short prescriptions can inadvertently suggest to patients and family physicians that long-term adherence is not a necessity.
He explained: "When we reduce the requirement for early refills, patients still follow up with their family physician or cardiologist and they are more likely to remain on the medications as well.
"We certainly want to encourage early outpatient follow up after hospitalisation, but holding medications ransom may not be the best way to do it."
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