Quantifying the medication burden of kidney transplant recipients in the first year post-transplantation

Jac Kee Low, Kimberley Crawford, Elizabeth Manias, Allison Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background Kidney transplantation is an effective treatment, but it is not a cure. Since the risk of graft rejection and the presence of comorbid conditions remain for a lifetime, medications are necessary. Objective To examine the prescription medication burden of adult kidney transplant recipients from 3- to 12-months post-transplantation. Setting All five adult kidney transplant units in Victoria, Australia. Method As part of a larger intervention study, we conducet a retrospective review of prescription refill records and medical records containing the history of medication changes of 64 participants who completed the study was undertaken. The complexity of the medication management was studied, and we looked at the burden of maintaining the medications supply. Outcome measures Pill burden, administration frequency, dose changes frequency, immunosuppressive medication changes, the estimated out-of-pocket costs of medications and frequency of pharmacy visits. Results At 3 months, the average daily pill burden was 22 (SD = 9) whilst at 12 months, it was 23 (SD = 10). Some participants required long-term prophylaxis of fungal infections up to 4 times a day whilst those with diabetes had to manage up to 4 insulin doses a day. The average out-of-pocket cost per person and the frequency of pharmacy visits at 6, 9 and 12 months post-transplantation remained relatively unchanged. Conclusion The medication regimen prescribed for kidney transplant recipients is complex and for most patients, it did not simplify over time post transplantation. Strategies are needed to support patients in managing the complexity of their medication regimen following kidney transplantation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1242-1249
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical Pharmacy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • Australia
  • Cost of illness
  • Kidney transplantation
  • Medication burden
  • Prescription drugs
  • Prescription fees

Cite this