There is a vast and growing evidence base demonstrating that adherence to recommended medication regimens will ultimately deliver better health outcomes for patients such as preventing disease progression, relieving symptoms, avoiding hospitalizations and improving quality of life.
Despite these known benefits, most patients do not take their medications as prescribed and more than half of patients prematurely discontinue their medications after one year, which costs the United States economy an estimated $100 billion to $300 billion annually. The problem of nonadherence is particularly concerning for individuals with chronic conditions. For example, a recent analysis showed that less than two-thirds of Medicare Part D enrollees diagnosed with diabetes, heart failure, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) take medications recommended to treat their disease. Other research has found that improving medication adherence among patients with diabetes could result in more than 1 million avoided emergency department visits and hospitalizations annually, for an estimated annual savings of $8.3 billion.
At present, there is no clear, universal solution to improve adherence, but it is critical that we work toward finding resolution in order to improve patient care and realize the potential savings for the U.S. health care system.
To inform, raise awareness and promote discussion about ways to improve medication adherence, we will host a new blog series: Ask About Adherence. As part of the series, experts will address a number of different topics in the coming months including:
- Barriers to adherence
- Enhancing the evidence base
- Potential policy solutions
- Case studies highlighting specific solutions
- Provider and patients perspectives
- Resources to guide adherence efforts
- New research findings
For more, follow the hashtag #Adherence123s on Facebook and Twitter and be sure to check back in for future posts. We look forward to sharing more about adherence with you, and we hope that you will share your thoughts and perspectives in return using the comment box below.
Samantha Dougherty Samantha Dougherty is a senior director of policy and research at PhRMA. Her primary role is to develop and manage a broad portfolio of research projects related to the use and value of medicines. She has authored and been involved in numerous academic and non-academic projects that have been published in peer-reviewed journals or presented at scientific conferences. Samantha also serves as a lead subject matter expert on cost savings from use of medicines, evidence related to adherence, productivity and achievement of better outcomes. She received a B.S. in Economics from the University of Maryland College Park and a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Health Services Research from the University of Maryland Baltimore.