A study at Kaiser Permanente finds 29.5 percent of women prescribed bisphosphonates, a class of drugs to prevent loss of bone mass in patients with osteoporosis and similar bone diseases, failed to pick up their prescription.

Failure to take the medication can increase risk of fractures, according to Kaiser, which published study findings in the journal Osteoporosis International. The study examined electronic health records of 8,454 women at least 55 years of age in Kaiser’s Southern California region who were prescribed the medications between December 2009 and March 2011.

Older women and those who had used emergency department services during the previous year were less likely to fill the prescription. Women taking other prescriptions and had been hospitalized during the previous year were more likely to pick up the medication.

Women getting the prescription from a physician who has been practicing at Kaiser for at least a decade also were more likely to pick up the prescription than patients of physicians with less time at the organization. Prescriptions from physicians specializing in rheumatology or internal medicine also were picked up more than those from other physicians.

“These findings suggest that health care providers must do a better job at identifying barriers and developing interventions that address the individual patient’s needs and concerns at the time the prescription is ordered,” says Kristi Reynolds, PhD, a researcher at Kaiser and lead study author. The study is available here, costing $39.95.

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