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Published: April, 2012; Vol 8, Num 11

 

With Prescription Meds, Follow Doctor's Orders

"People put themselves at risk," warns LIUNA General Secretary Treasurer and LHSFNA Labor Co-Chairman Armand E. Sabitoni, "when they are prescribed a medication that they choose not to take, do not take as directed, do not finish or just plain forget to take at all."

Alternate description

LIUNA General Secretary-Treasurer and LHSFNA Labor Co-Chairman
Armand E. Sabitoni

Medication non-adherence or non-compliance is both deadly and costly. Yet, nearly three out of every four Americans do not take their medication as directed. Every year in the United States and Canada, it leads to thousands of deaths and billions of dollars unnecessarily spent on health care.

Cost is the main reason for non-adherence. In an effort to save money, people stretch or hoard prescriptions.

Another reason arises from the reality that someone needs medication but does not feel sick. For example, it is possible to have high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes for years and be unaware until a medical test reveals the problem. Then, a patient may discontinue a prescribed therapy if its side effects make him or her feel sicker than before the treatment started.

"These choices are counterproductive," Sabitoni stresses, "Taking medication as directed saves you money, keeps you healthier and helps you live a longer life. Never cut corners with your medicines. That's one of the most important decisions you will ever make."

[Janet Lubman Rathner]

Tips for taking medicine safely and effectively

  • Gather information. Request brochures and pamphlets about your condition and medication from your health care provider.  Ask for recommendations to reliable websites.
  • Maintain a list of your medications including all over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and supplements. Share this list with your health care provider and your pharmacist. This makes it easier for them to spot – and prevent – potentially dangerous drug interactions.
  • Don't rely on your memory. Buy a special pill case divided into the days of the week.
  • Take your medication at the same time every day, perhaps when you brush your teeth or feed the dog.
  • Talk with your doctor before you stop taking a medication or start taking fewer doses, even if symptoms disappear or you don't think the medicine is working.
  • Ask about a simpler schedule. You may be able to switch to a different dose that doesn't need to be taken as often.
  • Explore more affordable options. If you've been prescribed a brand-name medication, ask your doctor about generics. Check with your health care provider about buying a larger dose and splitting it to save money.