Most people are aware that illegal drugs and misuse of prescription drugs are problems in the United States. Did you know that there’s a problem with legally used prescribed drugs as well?
People aren’t taking them.
This is America’s other drug problem, according to a report by the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE). If you are prescribed a medication by your doctor, then you should take it as directed. If you don’t, it can lead to unnecessary disease progression, disease complications, reduced functional abilities, a lower quality of life, and even death, the report states.
Taking medications as directed is referred to as “medication adherence” or “medication compliance.” It’s especially of concern to people with long-term, chronic conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, cancer, or AIDS. Taking medications consistently over long periods of time is a challenge, especially if you have more than one prescription.
Research by the New England Healthcare Institute (NEHI) in 2009 showed that poor adherence is estimated to cost approximately $290 billion annually in avoidable medical spending. NEHI research also showed that one third to one half of all patients do not take their prescription medications properly.
Hold on a minute. Half? Can that be right? Unfortunately, it is. As many as half of all patients do not take their prescription medications properly.
Why do people not take their medications like they’re supposed to? There are a variety of reasons. Some people have difficulty reading, understanding, and acting on health information or have limited English proficiency. Others want to stretch their pills out so they last longer due to their cost; they take smaller doses than what they’re prescribed, which compromises the medication’s effectiveness. And there’s a group of people who just never get around to filling their prescriptions.
As you get older, you are more and more likely to develop a chronic health problem. Taking your medication like you’re supposed to is important. Little pills can have a big effect on your health and quality of life. So listen to your doctor. Ask questions. Talk to your pharmacist. Make sure you’re taking your medicine properly.
What strategies do you use to remember to take your medications or to get your loved ones to take theirs?