Observational data are increasingly being used for pharmacoepidemiological, health services and clinical effectiveness research. Since pharmacies first introduced low-cost prescription programs (LCPP), researchers have worried that data about the medications provided through these programs might not be available in observational data derived from administrative sources, such as payer claims or pharmacy benefit management (PBM) company transactions.
We used data from the Indiana Network for Patient Care to estimate the proportion of patients with type 2 diabetes to whom an oral hypoglycemic agent was dispensed. Based on these estimates, we compared the proportions of patients who received medications from chains that do and do not offer an LCPP, the proportion trend over time based on claims data from a single payer, and to proportions estimated from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS).
We found that the proportion of patients with type 2 diabetes who received oral hypoglycemic medications did not vary based on whether the chain that dispensed the drug offered an LCPP or over time. Additionally, the rates were comparable to those estimated from MEPS.
Researchers can be reassured that data for medications available through LCPPs continue to be available through administrative data sources.