Noncompliance Hurts Patients and the Healthcare Industry
In America, medication noncompliance is estimated to cause nearly 125,000 deaths every year, according to a study published in the American College of Physicians Annals of Internal Medicine (ACP).
Healthy families depend on access to the medications they need. Sadly, many Americans lack access in a meaningful, affordable way. Medication compliance is a complicated issue for physicians, pharmacies, and average Americans. It costs billions of dollars every year. What is worse, it also costs lives.
There is no straightforward solution that solves medication noncompliance, but affordability can only help. Reduced drug spending at the point of sale makes medication more accessible. It gives more patients the ability to purchase what they need and take it according to their doctor’s orders.
Medication Noncompliance Hurts Patients and the Healthcare Industry
The ACP study reveals that nearly 30 percent of prescriptions go unfilled every year. Nearly 50 percent are not taken as prescribed.
When patients cannot afford medication, they might conserve what they have or fail to fill a prescription entirely. Those are the primary drivers behind the noncompliance issue. While it is true that some may fail to fill prescriptions for other reasons, such as reluctance to try a certain drug, for many, the issue is strictly financial. Without adequate medical coverage, meeting the out-of-pocket costs might be challenging or impossible. That is where most noncompliance begins.
The long view of noncompliance, however, costs more than expensive medication. According to the study, failure to take medications at all or failure to take them as prescribed costs patients $100 billion to $290 billion every year. As many of these patients are uninsured, costs mount up for medical providers and institutions that treat them for preventable or advanced conditions as well.
Drug Discounts Give Patients Relief for Common and Notoriously Expensive Medications
Anyone whose life depends on emergency epinephrine does not need to be told about the costs. Recent price increases to the tune of hundreds of dollars per dose left many families wondering whether they could afford the medication at all.
Some of the most vital medications are also the most expensive. Targeted discounts help people who are uninsured, underinsured, or have a high deductible afford medications. One example is the CVS Caremark ReducedRX plan, which reduces the price of Novo Nordisk’s Novolin insulin by $100.
Drug discounts at the point of sale could ultimately save patients billions.
Express Scripts is another program aimed at certain drugs, says Managed Healthcare Executive. Instead of discounting one drug, it offers up to a 40 percent discount on several medications that are both commonly prescribed and costly. It is not perfect, but it is a beginning.
For patients, the immediate concern is often whether or not medication fits into the budget. The researchers show, however, that treatment success rates and morbidity rates have been dramatically affected by medication noncompliance. Without effective treatment, conditions can worsen and new conditions might develop. Many people die.
With reasonable, affordable access to medication, thousand of lives may be saved every year. What is interesting from the perspective of the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries is that compliance through affordability is good for their economies as well.
For example, improved packaging can cut manufacturing costs, which translates to more affordable drugs and more people filling their prescriptions. When people take medications as prescribed, healthcare providers have fewer incidents of medical emergencies where uninsured or underinsured patients cannot pay. Affordable medication is important for individual families and it is also important for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries.
Also published on Medium.