Medication adherence is measured by how often a patient takes medications as prescribed, including at the correct time, dosage, and frequency that the doctor has written. Adherence is one of the most important pieces of the treatment paradigm because at the end of the day, a medication can only be effective when it’s taken.
Reasons for non-adherence:
Non-adherence is costly to the system and the patient. Not taking your medication as prescribed can lead to recurrence of symptoms and potentially severe medical problems. There are several reasons people may not take their medications and many of them are things that can be addressed by a medical professional. Some of the most common reasons are:
- Forgetfulness or busy schedule
- Fear of adverse events
- Cost constraints
- Complex dosing regimens
- Lack of education around their disease and/or medication
- Poor understanding of disease severity and/or drug effectiveness
- Unpleasant taste, smell, or route of administration
How to stay adherent:
Pharmacists can play a major role in improving adherence and can offer a variety of services to help patients find an approach that works for them. Some of the services pharmacists offer to help with medication adherence are:
- Disease state and medication counseling – understanding your condition and why the medication has been prescribed are important first steps towards managing your treatment. Your pharmacist can discuss your disease and explain how the medication works in your condition to help increase your quality of life. Your pharmacist may also have educational materials that can help you learn more about your condition and treatment.
- Medication therapy management (MTM) – this incorporates a broad range of services provided by pharmacists, including medication therapy reviews, immunizations, and disease management/support. With MTM your pharmacist can help you manage multiple disease states, therapies, and preventative treatments such as immunizations.
- Cost strategies – your pharmacist has access to a wide range of products and support information that may help you address any cost constraints you may have. Many times, coupon or co-pay cards are available to patients who are not on a government form of healthcare such as Medicare or Medicaid. These discounts can be applied to your
medication at the pharmacy. Some drug manufacturers also have programs available to patients in need financial assistance. Your pharmacist can work with you to research these programs.
In addition to the strategies listed above, a compounding pharmacy can also help to address challenges with adherence by working with your doctor to create tailored medications, including:
- Dosing simplification – this can be achieved by combining multiple active ingredients into one product or reformulating a fast acting pill into a slow-release formulation that may allow you to take fewer pills each day.
- Minimization of adverse effects – commercially available products come in a limited number of strengths and doses, but compounded products can be created specifically for you and your needs.
- Formulation – each person has their own preference when it comes to what works best for them. While a pill may be preferred by some, a liquid or topical lotion may be easier for others, and your pharmacist can work with you and your doctor to find ways to help you find what works best for you.
It’s important to talk to your pharmacist about your medications and adherence to ensure you are on the best track for your therapy management.