Experts Try To Fix Problem Of Millions Who Don't Adhere To Prescriptions

The Boston Globe: "It is a common conundrum in doctor's offices, clinics, and hospitals across the nation: patients who do not take their medication as directed. It's true for people with high cholesterol, low calcium, diabetes, and asthma. It's even true for patients with the AIDS virus and those who have received life-saving replacement organs."

Researchers are trying to paint a picture of what patients not taking their medications costs the system and health outcomes in America. In the New England Journal of Medicine last month, "a Harvard health economist and the New England Healthcare Institute's president sketched in stark detail the consequences of patients failing to take their drugs. The behavior spawns hospital stays costing $100 billion a year — stays that could have been averted. And 89,000 deaths from high blood pressure could be prevented annually if hypertension drug regimens were followed." The unadherence can be attributed to medical, financial and social forces. "One major reason: the sheer complexity of what patients with chronic illnesses are expected to take. … And for some of the most common conditions, the benefits of medication may not be readily evident to patients." Some worry higher copays for drugs could hurt adherence, but others say that even with lower copays, drug adherence still isn't perfect (Smith, 5/10).

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