Medication Non-Compliance Detriment to Patients’ Health and Costs Money

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal ran a piece in their Informed Patient column entitled Many Pills, Many Not Taken.   The column discusses medication compliance challenges and the value of technology and intervention by health care providers.  You can read it here.

The statistics and costs associated with patient non-compliance are staggering.  Some studies have shown that up to 75% of patients do not properly adhere to their drug regimens.  Non- adherence incudes not filling prescriptions, not picking up prescriptions from a pharmacy, not taking drugs as directed and failing to refill prescriptions.  In addition to serious adverse effects on patient well being, non-adherence costs the U.S. healthcare system roughly $290 billion per year in ‘avoidable’ medical spending.

Among the primary reasons for non-compliance are unpleasant side effects, drug interactions and confusion about dosage and scheduling.  The use of clinical pharmacy specialists and electronic health records has increased compliance for patients enrolled in health plans with medication management programs.

No doubt, there are plenty of examples of initiatives that produce better health outcomes through proper prescription drug usage.  It takes some innovation and a commitment to get results, both immediate and long term.  Public and private policy makers should consider heeding the examples presented in this column for the benefit of patients and health care savings.

-Jaime Venditti 10/12/11