US consumers who have their prescription medicines delivered at home are more likely to take their medications as directed and choose a generic alternative than those who use a retail pharmacy, according to two new studies conducted by pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) Express Scripts.

In one study, compliance with prescribers’ instructions was found to be nearly eight percentage points higher for patients who took home delivery of medicines to treat their high blood pressure, at 78.6% compliance compared with 70.8% for patients using a retail pharmacy.

Home delivery delivers improved medication compliance, in addition to cost savings, through patient communications such as phone or e-mail refill reminders, renewal assistance and less frequent re-ordering, says the company.

The second study found that the likelihood of a patient choosing a generic medicine increased 34% for home-delivery consumers compared with those visiting a retail pharmacy after the former were sent a letter last year telling them that a cheaper generic version of Sanofi-Aventis’ sleep aid Ambien (zolpidem) had just become available.

While financial incentives are important to encourage consumers to choose generics, they are not sufficient to realize the full money-saving potential,” said Emily Cox, one of the studies’ authors and leader of the PBM’s research department. “Timely communications - in this case immediately after a drug goes generic - need to be coupled with the right financial incentives to increase the number of consumers choosing a generic," she added.

Express Scripts estimates that the US prescription sleep aid market will be 70%-generic this year, although x95% of such prescriptions could be filled with generic alternatives.