by Roxanna Orsini
It’s a fact. Medications don’t work if patients don’t take them. Taking your medications as prescribed by your physician can help improve the quality and length of your life.
Importance of taking your medications
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 50% of Americans have used at least one prescription with in the last 30 days. One recent study shows that patients who were compliant with taking their statin therapy medications for at least two years had a 30% reduction in the risk of hospitalization for acute myocardial infarctions (heart attacks).1
Even with all the benefits medications can have on a patient’s health, there is still an issue with adherence to medication therapy.
After a patient visits their doctor
- 20% – 30% of new prescriptions never reach the pharmacy.2
- Of those prescriptions that do get filled, 50% of the time they are not taken as prescribed by the doctor.2
- After six months of treatment for a chronic condition, patients tend to reduce the amount of medication they are taking, or stop treatment altogether.
Annual results of medication nonadherence
- 125,000 deaths and at least 10% of hospitalizations.2
- Costs the United States health care system between $100 billion and $289 billion annually.2,3
Most common reasons medication treatments are adjusted
Patients often discontinue or alter how they are taking their medications due to a variety of factors. A patient may no longer be adherent to their prescription therapy due to:
- Cost of the medication
- Experiencing a potential side effect
- The patient no longer felt they needed the medication, and,
- The patient feeling they are currently taking too many medications.
If a medication is too costly, ask your provider if they have any samples to provide, or even ask about possible generic alternatives. Prescription discount services, like ScriptSave WellRx, can often help reduce the cost. You may be surprised to find our cash prices is even lower than your insurance copay! Visit our website to check your medication prices.
When you’re considering an adjustment to your medication therapy, it’s important to follow up and discuss the decision with your healthcare provider. Some medications, if discontinued suddenly, can cause more harm than good.
Ways to improve the way you take your medications
Complications from medication nonadherence are 100% preventable. Here are a few tips to help you remember to take your medications:
- Using an alarm or calendar
- Filling a weekly pillbox
- Taking the medication at the same time every day, create a routine
- Ask your pharmacy about getting a 90-day supply
- Ask your insurance provider if mail order provides prescription benefits.
Make sure to keep open communication with your healthcare provider. There are times a patient does not report a side effect or concern with the medication until the next appointment. Try reaching out to your provider right away. They are there to help you find a medication that can help improve your health condition.
- Lansberg, P., Lee, A., Lee, Z., Subramaniam, K. and Setia, S. (2018). Nonadherence to statins: individualized intervention strategies outside the pill box. Vascular Health and Risk Management, Volume 14, pp.91-102.
- Rosenbaum, L. and Shrank, W. (2013). Taking Our Medicine — Improving Adherence in the Accountability Era. New England Journal of Medicine, 369(8), pp.694-695.
- Viswanathan, M., Golin, C., Jones, C., Ashok, M., Blalock, S., Wines, R., Coker-Schwimmer, E., Rosen, D., Sista, P. and Lohr, K. (2012). Interventions to Improve Adherence to Self-administered Medications for Chronic Diseases in the United States. Annals of Internal Medicine, 157(11), p.785-95.