Patients didn't make the grade in a survey on medication adherence commissioned by the National Community Pharmacists Association.


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Patients get C+ in NCPA Rx adherence report card

June 25th, 2013

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Patients didn't make the grade in a survey on medication adherence commissioned by the National Community Pharmacists Association.

NCPA said Tuesday that the first-of-its-kind study, "Medication Adherence in America: A National Report Card," found that Americans age 40 and older with a chronic medical condition were graded at C+, on average, in terms of taking their medications correctly.

Worse, one in seven members of adults with chronic conditions — the equivalent of more than 10 million adults — scored an F in terms of sticking to their prescriptions, NCPA noted.

Grades in the survey of 1,020 Americans, conducted by Langer Research Associates, were calculated based on an average of answers to questions about nine nonadherent behaviors: whether in the past 12 months patients failed to fill a prescription, neglected to have a prescription refilled, missed a dose, took a lower dose than prescribed, took a higher dose than prescribed, stopped a prescription early, took an old medication for a new problem without consulting a doctor, took someone else's medicine, or forgot if they had taken a medication.

"The academic year has drawn to a close for most students, but when it comes to taking their prescription drugs, it's many of the parents who may require summer school," NCPA chief executive officer B. Douglas Hoey said in a statement. "Proper prescription drug use can improve patient health outcomes and lower health care costs, so anything less than an A on medication adherence is concerning.

"Pharmacists can help patients and caregivers overcome barriers to effectively and consistently follow medication regimens," Hoey pointed out. "Indeed, independent community pharmacists in particular may be well-suited to boost patient adherence given their close connection with patients and their caregivers."

Source: NCPA/Langer Research Associates, "Medication Adherence in America: A National Report Card"
 

Other key points in the adherence report card included the following:

• Collectively, a third of respondents received either a D or F.

• The biggest indicator of medication adherence was whether patients had a personal connection with a pharmacist or pharmacy staff. NCPA said patients of independent pharmacies reported the highest level of personal connection (89% agreeing that pharmacist or staff "knows you pretty well"), followed by large chains (67%) and mail order (36%). This factor was followed in order of importance by affordability of medications, continuity in health care use, how important patients feel it is to take their medication as prescribed, how well-informed they feel about their health, and medication side effects.

• The grades in the survey may even understate the nonadherence problem because of the self-reported nature of the answers and the potential reluctance among some individuals to admit to undesirable behaviors.

• Almost nine in 10 patients said their doctor or other health care provider usually speaks to them about how and when to take a newly prescribed medicine; 77% said their provider always does so.

• Nearly six in 10 respondents reported that their pharmacist always speaks with them about a new prescription; 73% said their pharmacist usually does so.

"This survey reinforces the large role that pharmacy services such as medication therapy management (MTM) and synchronized-refill programs like Simplify My Meds can play in achieving gains in patient medication adherence and healthier outcomes," Hoey added. "Thus, it has several direct applications for public and private stakeholders.

NCPA said the survey is part of it Pharmacists Advancing Medication Adherence (PAMA) initiative. PAMA is sponsored by Pfizer, Merck and the Cardinal Health Foundation.

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