Pharmacies that counseled patients for a chronic COPD/respiratory drug saw an average increase in refill rates of more than 36% through the fifth fill, said McKesson.

Counseling for a 90-day smoking cessation drug prompted a 30% increase in refill rates.

The company is piloting an adherence counseling program by which pharmacies are reimbursed by manufacturers for conducting five-minute intervention sessions with patients to improve adherence to prescribed drug regimens.

Participating pharmacists receive training in motivational interviewing and other behavioral techniques. In lieu of a script, they are given branded and unbranded “intervention tools” such as sample questions and responses to guide conversations with patients. Pharmacists, said McKesson, “were compensated in line with fair market value principles established  by the industry,” and the firm monitors transactional and performance data to safeguard against misreporting.

McKesson declined to name the two manufacturers that participated in the pilot but said tey’ll be expanding the program to other chronic brands and that the company expects to add a number of brands with new clients to the program in 2010.