Non-Compliance With Medications – A National Crises

Over the past few decades, one epidemic that has never been talked about is noncompliance with medications. The exact number of people in the US who do not take their prescribed medications is not known but the numbers are not miniscule. Non-adherence to medications is completely preventable. Most Americans do not realize the cost of not taking their medications for their chronic disorders.

Studies from clinics reveal that at least 20-30 percent of prescriptions are never filled and that nearly 50% of Americans do take medications for chronic disorders as prescribed. Even those who have a life threatening infection usually take half the prescribed doses.

So what is the deal with not being compliant with medications? A new study shows that each year there are close to 125,000 deaths and at least 10% of the individuals need to be admitted. The cost is astronomical ranging from $100-$289 billion a year.

In order for certain disorders to be cured, drugs have to be taken as prescribed. This may explain one reason why many patients are constantly ill and never get better or even die. What is astonishing is that health exams show that nearly 30% of patients who undergo kidney transplants do not take their anti-rejection medication, 41% do not take their medications to treat blood pressure and nearly 50% of children with asthma do not take their prescribed medications. All these people eventually end up in the emergency room and of course, some do die.

Why patients do not take medications is a big question. Some say they do not like medications and other says they are not a pill person. The general view among many Americans is that medications are foreign substances and unnatural; they would rather take something more natural like vitamins or other health supplements. During the past few years, society has changed rapidly and people seem to prefer natural things; they believe that exercise and changes in diet are sufficient to cure diseases. Many people take medications for a few weeks and if they do not feel any different, they stop taking them.

The consequences of not taking medications for high blood pressure or after a stroke are serious. Unfortunately it appears that the cost of medications is also a major deterrent. The copay of many medications is anywhere from $30-$50 and this immediately puts off people from filling prescriptions. Some of the drugs for treating rheumatoid arthritis cost $4,000 a month and patients are unlikely to take them at the prescribed doses to save money.

Finally another deterrent to medication compliance is the side effects. So the onus is on doctors who need to educate patients on drugs and their benefits.

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