Complex issues of compliance continue to make an impact

September 1, 2006

One in three (33%) U.S. adults who have been prescribed drugs to take regularly report that they are often or very often not compliant with their medications.

Medication compliance was a problem three years ago, as reported in a 2003 issue of MANAGED HEALTHCARE EXECUTIVE, and its weight can still be felt today. One in three (33%) U.S. adults who have been prescribed drugs to take regularly report that they are often or very often not compliant with their medications.

Although many reasons lie behind non-compliance, a study conducted by Wall Street Journal/Harris Interactive shows that 64% of respondents with drugs prescribed in the last year cite forgetfulness as the main reason for non-compliance; 45% are concerned about the medication; and 43% believe the drug is unnecessary. Other barriers to adherence, according to the study, include financial reasons, dangerous side effects, a belief that the drugs are ineffective and asymptomatic patients who do not perceive value from a drug.

These frightening statistics result in an additional $100 billion in healthcare costs annually, according to a study from The New England Journal of Medicine. On the upside, however, these data are pushing healthcare organizations to develop programs to promote medication compliance-from chronic illness self-management and reminders to education and "smart pill bottles."

Overall, the study shows that money spent on medication treatments results in substantial savings when the costs of adherence to drug therapy are compared with the costs of hospitalizations and visits to the emergency room and doctor's office.

"Health plans are reluctant to adopt compliance programs because they suspect they will be expensive," says Lon Castle, MD, director, medical policy and programs for Medco, "but the long-term benefits outweigh the costs."

Medco reaches out to non-compliant patients who may be refilling their prescriptions too soon, taking too much of a drug or not filling their prescriptions at all, as well as to their physicians through reminders.

PBMS RELY ON EDUCATION

Prescription Solutions Specialty Pharmacy Program has coordinated a program that combines mail service, home infusion, care and claim management and data tracking along with disease therapy management, which educates patients and their families/caregivers about drug regimens to achieve the best clinical outcomes and minimize therapy-related adverse events.