Expedited partner therapy (EPT) is commonly provided by prescription; however, the efficacy of this modality is unknown. We examined whether EPT prescriptions are filled when the cost barrier is removed.
To track EPT prescription fill rates, we used single-use pharmacy vouchers that covered the cost of azithromycin, 1 g (chlamydia treatment). We recruited clinical sites to distribute vouchers to patients with chlamydia who would receive an EPT prescription under clinic policies. When distributing vouchers, sites recorded and retained: voucher unique identifier, sex and age of index patient, distribution date, and whether partner name was written on the EPT prescription. Pharmacists receiving vouchers entered the identifier, sex and age of presenting person, and redemption date into a standard pharmacy claim transmission system. Data for redeemed vouchers were retrieved from an industry portal and linked with data retained at clinical sites.
Thirty-two clinical sites distributed 931 vouchers during September 2017 to January 2019; 382 (41%) were redeemed. Vouchers distributed to patients 18 years or younger (49 [30%] of 163) were less likely to be redeemed compared with those distributed to patients older than 18 years (322 [44%] of 736; P = 0.001). Just over half of vouchers were redeemed the same day (196 [56%] of 352) and 1 mile or less from the clinical site (188 [54%] of 349). After excluding an outlier site, vouchers accompanied by EPT prescriptions including a partner name (15 [56%] of 27) were more likely to be redeemed than those lacking a name (83 [34%] of 244; P = 0.03).
Less than half of EPT prescriptions were filled, even when medication was free. Whenever possible, EPT should be provided as drug-in-hand.