How Is COVID-19 Affecting Prescription Fills?

As many carry on hunkering down in the current situation of COVID-19, it’s obvious that they have enough stock of essential things from just toilet paper to bread. After the Trump government announced a national emergency owing to COVID-19 on March 13, prescription fills for treating several conditions touched the rocket mark. But since then, medication fills for the number of conditions have decreased - in a few cases by more than 30%. The COVID-19 crisis is leading to major disruptions to patients' lives and driving behavior alteration.

Corona and prescription refills

In other words, individuals began to stock up too ahead of time, but have been going to the pharmacy less frequently in the days since as the stay-at-home orders have continued.

What trends are we witnessing?

From March 13 to the 21, asthma drugs spiked by 65%, and drugs used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes enhanced by 25%. In a similar manner, medications used for treating high cholesterol, migraine, as well as hypothyroidism also saw a significant increment in claims. 

But since then, as lockdown orders have been primed, fills for a majority of medical conditions have fallen below where they were on March 1.

Why the increase? 

These fill spikes come after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested that Americans get hold of additional drugs in preparation for the COVID epidemic. As such, insurance companies such as Humana, Blue Cross as well as Blue Shield lifted constraints that made it hard for enrollees to fill prescriptions before time, letting many to stock up.

Concerns over potential scarcities may also be fueling this spike in fills. India and China, both leaders in medicine production, have restrained production as well as shipments as the COVID carries on spreading. What’s more, we are noticing a lot of shortages in drugs necessary in the treatment of COVID-19, such as those used for treating asthma and COPD.

Regardless of the spike we observed in mid-March, it’s not astonishing that we are noticing a dip in fills. With a most portion of the country now under “stay-at-home” orders, a small fraction of people are visiting their doctors and a small number of prescriptions are being written as well as filled. It’s also likely that a lot many people filled a 90-day prescription before lockdown orders were put into place and will not require a refill for some time.

Are individuals looking out for prioritizing essential medicines?

While fills for some drugs went up noticeably, fills for medications treating certain conditions such as flu, nausea, as well as erectile dysfunction never saw an increase, denoting that individuals didn’t prioritize these drugs.

Medications for treating flu, for example, have seen a drop by more than 95% since March 1st. While this decline corresponds with the end of flu season, it’s also expected that those experiencing signs are quarantining at home, in spite of visiting their doctor to get a Tamiflu prescription. Similarly, individuals may be prioritizing more essential drugs during this crisis, which explains the reduction in fills for erectile dysfunction medications such as sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis).