Medication Non-Adherence In America Is A National Crisis Costing Billions Of Dollars According To An August 2007 Report
(Posted by Tom Lamb at DrugInjuryWatch.com)
Two July 30, 2007 articles by Lauran Neergaard, a reporter who covers health and medical issues for The Associated Press (AP), bring us some important information about prescription medication adherence, or the lack thereof, in the U.S.
The first AP article by Ms. Neergaard, titled "Report: Skipping Doses Could Be Deadly" by The Washington Post, presents these findings from a report to be issued in the first part of August 2007 by the nonprofit National Council on Patient Information and Education:
- Particularly at risk are people whose diseases are initially symptom-free. Although high blood pressure more than triples the risk of heart disease, for example, just 51 percent of patients stick with their prescribed antidote.
- Also at high risk are the elderly, but adherence is a problem for all ages. As few as 30 percent of teenagers correctly take drugs to prevent asthma attacks, for example.
- Poor medication adherence can cost an extra $2,000 a year for each patient in extra doctor visits alone, and it's associated with as many as 40 percent of nursing home admissions, even more costly.
- Add preventable hospitalizations and premature death, and the report estimates that poor medication adherence could be costing the country $177 billion in medical bills and lost productivity.
The second AP article by Ms. Neergaard, titled "Tips to Help Patients Take Meds Properly" by The Baltimore Sun, provides patients with some advice items intended to help them better understand and adhere to their medication prescriptions:
- Before leaving the doctor's office with a new prescription, ask detailed questions including: How and when do I take this? When do I quit? What food, drink, other medicines or activities should I avoid while using this medicine? What is it supposed to do? How do I know if it's working? What are its possible side effects? What do I do if have those?
- Bring to each doctor's appointment a complete list of all prescription and nonprescription medicines you take, so the doctor can check if a planned new drug will interact badly with an existing one. If you use one pharmacy exclusively, the pharmacist can print out a prescription list for you.
- If you have problems understanding the instructions that come with the medicine, ask the pharmacist for help. There may be a simpler brochure, large-print instructions, or translations into languages than English.
- Patients who forget doses could try setting up pill boxes at the beginning of each week with morning, noon and night doses in separate compartments. Technology including "talking" pill boxes that sound an alarm when doses are missed also are under development.
We encourage you to help spread the word about this National Council on Patient Information and Education August 2007 report regarding our significant medication non-adherence problem here in America.
As part of an earlier four-part series on adverse drug reactions, called "ADRs in US", I wrote an article that looked at another aspect of the medication non-adherence problem, namely how the failure of some doctors to provide essential prescription drug information to their patients contributes to this growing problem.
Coincidentally, that particular "ADRs in US" series article is featured -- together with posts from 76 other bloggers -- in the new eBook BlawgWorld 2007 (available as a free download in PDF format), which was released on July 30, 2007.