Why People Skip the Medication They’re Supposed to Take

Sur­veys have shown that 15- 30% of the time, patients don’t even both­er to fill a pre­scrip­tion their doc­tor has giv­en them.

And that’s only the begin­ning of the prob­lem of drug com­pli­ance.  There’s anoth­er large group that fills their pre­scrip­tion, but doesn’t ever take the pills, or doesn’t take the pre­scribed amount.  More than 75% of adults sur­veyed admit­ted that they didn’t entire­ly fol­low their doctor’s rec­om­men­da­tions.

What’s responsible for the big drug gap?

Some of the rea­sons why peo­ple don’t take their med­i­cine include

  • Con­cern about the cost
  • Poor provider com­mu­ni­ca­tion
  • Bur­den­some treat­ment reg­i­mens
  • Men­tal ill­ness or depres­sion con­tribut­ing to poor com­pli­ance
  • The pos­si­bil­i­ty of side-effects, and
  • Per­son­al beliefs about the val­ue of med­ica­tion

Inter­est­ing­ly, com­pli­ance with a doctor’s med­ica­tion rec­om­men­da­tions does not cor­re­late with socioe­co­nom­ic sta­tus or edu­ca­tion­al lev­el.

The Big Four

Health pol­i­cy experts look at these num­bers and find huge room for improve­ment.  If drug com­pli­ance could be improved, they rea­son, the nation’s health would improve too.  And we’d save mon­ey in the long run. Because it’s bet­ter to con­trol your chron­ic high blood pres­sure (for exam­ple) than to increase your risk of a seri­ous heart attack down the road.

Experts esti­mate that bet­ter phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal con­trol of the big four chron­ic health prob­lems:  depres­sion, dia­betes, high cho­les­terol, and high blood pres­surecould save the nation almost $300 bil­lion a year.

What’s Wrong With This Analysis?

I’m entire­ly in favor of peo­ple tak­ing the pre­scrip­tion drugs that they need.

If you have any con­cerns about the effi­ca­cy or safe­ty (or cost!) of any of the drugs you’re tak­ing, I urge you to ask ques­tions of your doc­tor. Or devel­op a rela­tion­ship with a good phar­ma­cist.  Don’t just side-step your rec­om­mend­ed med­ica­tions with­out becom­ing bet­ter informed.  Used appro­pri­ate­ly, pre­scrip­tion drugs can be a pow­er­ful force to main­tain health.

But if pol­i­cy-shapers are wor­ry­ing about whether Amer­i­cans are tak­ing their drugs or not, they’re miss­ing the larg­er pic­ture.  No one gets high cho­les­terol because of a Lip­i­tor defi­cien­cy.  Nor are we depressed because there’s too lit­tle Prozac in our blood stream.  Often­times patients avoid drugs because they’re con­cerned with pos­si­ble side-effects or believe there may be safer, more nat­ur­al alter­na­tives.

There are no drugs with­out side-effects.  Admit­ted­ly, some­times their ben­e­fits out­weigh the neg­a­tives.  But drugs don’t get at the root of these four big chron­ic con­di­tions.

Yet there are pow­er­ful, effec­tive, inex­pen­sive non-drug treat­ments that do.  Here are two exam­ples.

This is a list of three well-researched meth­ods to improve blood pres­sure and reduce the risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease:

Here are four meth­ods to help dis­pel depres­sion:

Get the pic­ture?  See any need for a pre­scrip­tion pad here?

These are the strate­gies that our health pol­i­cy-mak­ers should be focus­ing on.


Deepen Your Body of Knowledge

Sur­prise! Sur­prise! Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies have an undue influ­ence on med­ical prac­tice


About Ronald Lavine, D.C.

Dr. Lavine has more than thirty years' experience helping patients alleviate pain and restore health using diverse, scientifically-based manual therapy and therapeutic exercise and alignment methods.

His website, askdrlavine.com, provides more information about his approach.

Please contact him at drlavine@yourbodyofknowledge.com or at 212-400-9663.

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