THE IMPORTANCE OF TAKING MEDICATIONS PROPERLY
By Paula Perrone, President of Perrone Pharmacy, Inc., LIVING WELL Magazine
In this article, we will discuss medication non-adherence and the problems associated with it. Medication non-adherence can include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Failing to fill a prescription after a physician has written it initially
- Failing to refill the prescription, according to the directions by the physician
- Taking more or less of a medication as prescribed
- Taking the medication at the wrong time
- Discontinuing the medication before the physician advises
- Taking medication with prohibited foods, liquids or other medications or storing it improperly
If you think this issue doesn’t affect you, consider these statistics: 12% of Americans never fill their prescription, another 12% don’t take it after they fill it, 29% stop taking it before it runs out and 22% take less of the medication than prescribed.
If that weren’t troubling enough, only 78% of persons with high blood pressure, after being newly diagnosed, persistently take their medication after 12 months; however, after 54 months post-diagnosis, that rate drops to only 46% who persistently take their medication. 
WHY AMERICANS AGE 50 AND OLDER DON’T FILL THEIR PRESCRIPTIONS
The reasons shouldn’t surprise anyone: 40% say it is the cost of the medication, another 11% don’t like the side effects and another 11% didn’t think the drug would help much. Another 8% responded that they didn’t think they needed the medication while 6% said that the drug didn’t help their condition.
Of those patients over 78 years of age, different problems emerged: 39% were unable to read the prescription labels and 67% didn’t fully understand the information given to them. Consequently, a full 45% of those surveyed were not taking their medications as prescribed. 
MEDICATION ERRORS ARE DEVASTATING, LARGELY AVOIDABLE AND COSTLY
The real costs are devastating to families. Did you know that as many as 125,000 deaths per year occur because cardiovascular patients don’t take their medications as prescribed? Over 20 years ago, nearly 25% of nursing home admissions were due to the fact that the person could no longer self-administer their medications. That number has only increased.
In addition to preventable deaths and involuntary admissions to nursing homes due to medication administration problems, nearly a third of all older persons hospitalized had a history of non-adherence. The economic toll is great as well: non-adherence costs the U.S. health care system over $100 billion per year in unnecessary emergency room visits, hospitalizations, lab tests and physician visits. But there is something you can do about it.
HOW YOUR PHARMACIST CAN HELP
One of the best ways you can improve your own medication adherence or that of a loved one is to have a good relationship with your pharmacist. Consulting with your pharmacist when a new medication regime starts can help you more fully understand what to expect. It may very well take longer than you anticipate for it to have the intended effect. Also, you need to let your pharmacist know all of the medications and supplements being taken. Ask the pharmacist about drug-food interactions as well.
Further, once a medication regime is begun, talk to your pharmacist about the side effects you or your family member may be experiencing. Your pharmacist can speak to the prescribing physician and together they may find another manufactured or compounded medication that offers a better solution.
Finally, if cost is the issue, your pharmacist can research what is covered on your insurance plan and look into less costly generic substitutions or therapeutic interchanges, then speak with your doctor about making the switch, if necessary.
Since 1952, Perrone Pharmacy has catered to the needs of its customers. Our experience in working with senior and special needs populations for almost six decades gives us a unique perspective in understanding how to best serve you and your loved ones.
Our founder Paul Perrone offered legendary service. That legacy remains at the heart of our business. We are dedicated to meeting your needs by providing professional and courteous pharmacist consultants for medication review and medication therapy management.
In addition, we offer state-of-the-art traditional and sterile compounding services from our on-site labs. We will work with you and your physician to develop custom medication solutions if you or a loved one is encountering problems with being able to tolerate an existing commercially-made medication.
Call us today to schedule a consultation: 817-738-2135.