According to a study just published in the American Journal of Medicine twenty four percent of patients given a new medication by their doctors did not fill the prescription (a situation commonly known as medication non-adherence). While prescriptions written for infants were almost always filled and antibiotics were filled at a 90% rate, prescriptions for hypertension and diabetes saw primary non-adherence rates in excess of 25 percent. This is worrisome. Socio-economic factors certainly play a role as out-of-pocket costs for medications rise. But it is important to see the whole, long-term picture. It has been estimated that medication non-adherence, which also includes getting a prescription filled but not taking it or taking it incorrectly, produces excess health care costs in the range of $300 billion annually. That’s a huge chunk of change!
But health care cost isn’t the only reason for concern. Inadequate or non-treatment of chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes can have a huge impact on the quality of life of the patient as well as his or her family and friends. Many chronic conditions are relatively symptom-free early on but then can be devastating for all concerned down the road. It is sometimes difficult to be compliant with medication regimes when one doesn’t “feel bad” and there are no apparent effects from the medication. But know that not taking medication as prescribed now could very well lead to consequences later one did not bargain for.
Be compliant yourself! Encourage others to do the same.