The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), in a lengthy study aimed at discovering and developing ways for patients to live longer, healthier and more productive lives, concluded that successful treatment of disease with prescription medicines requires consistent use of the medicines as prescribed.
The cost of medication non-adherence is significant in terms of loss of life and monetary costs. According to the CDC, 20 to 30 percent of prescriptions are never filled, and in about 50 percent of cases, medication is not continued as prescribed.
Your medicine may come with a new side effect -- financial pain. Prescription-drug spending is growing at a phenomenal rate according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). And, the sickest Americans are bearing the biggest burden. Some 43 percent of those in fair or poor health say it’s somewhat or very difficult to afford their medications, and 37 percent say they’ve skipped out on filling a prescription because of cost, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).
Cost may be the biggest barrier to medication adherence, according to pharmacists. Numerous studies have found as many as three of four Americans don’t take medications as prescribed. A recent survey by CVS Caremark of more than 2,400 of its retail pharmacists revealed that 62 percent believe the high cost of drugs is the biggest reason why. The pharmacists estimated that, during the course of a year, nearly one third of their customers decide not to fill a prescription due to price.
In a move that is widely supported by both political parties, President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency. Doing so will allow for additional resources to be used toward fighting the opioid crisis, which could include expanding treatment facilities and supplying first responders with the anti-overdose remedy, naloxone.
Research reported this week in HealthDay, U.S. News and World Report’s e-Newsletter, states that how long a patient takes opioid painkillers after surgery is a much stronger risk factor for addiction and overdose than the dosage of the opioids taken.
The use of e-prescribing can improve patients’ adherence to prescription medications. It also facilitates better communications between patients, physicians and pharmacists.
An estimated 80 percent of abused controlled substances are obtained by prescription and legally dispensed to the abuser, an abuser’s friend or a family member. In many cases, opioids are obtained through so-called “doctor shopping” — seeing multiple doctors and obtaining a prescription from each.
E-prescribing is moving to the forefront of healthcare IT thanks to the benefits it brings to patients, physician workflow efficiency, and pharmacies. In fact, 90 percent of pharmacies in the United States now accept electronic prescriptions and 70 percent of physicians use e-prescribing, according to the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT. With this level of adoption, the industry is well on its way toward enjoying the patient safety, efficiency and cost savings benefits associated with e-prescribing.
A recent article in the Specialty Pharmacy Times stated that medication adherence is a constant struggle for pharmacists, especially those treating patients with conditions that require high-touch, high-cost specialty drugs. Missing just a single dose of medication may cause adverse health events or cost additional dollars spent on these patients. Preventing adverse events and extra costs are an important goal of specialty pharmacists.