Sicker Patients = More Rxs = Lower Adherence

What a vicious cycle. As patients get sicker, they get prescribed more and more medications which just leads to lower adherence which increases their total healthcare costs and the likelihood that their health will get worse.

A study released at the end of December by Medco Health Solutions highlighted some key issues:

  • 1 in 4 seniors take between 10 and 19 pills A DAY. [WOW]
  • 51% take at least 5 different prescriptions a day. [Not to mention vitamins, supplements, and other over-the-counter medications.]
  • 57% of those polled (1,000 people over 65) admit they forget to take their medication, BUT 63% of those with 5 or more medications said they forget.
  • 1/3rd of seniors using 5 or more prescriptions do not feel knowledgeable about the drugs their prescribed or their potential side effects.
  • 35% of the senior weren’t sure they could list all the medications they use.
  • The top concerns of those with 5 or more Rxs:
    • 40% – ability to afford their drugs
    • 23% – side effects
    • 17% – interactions
  • 49% of those polled that were in a Medicare Part D plan wanted to know how to delay or avoid falling into the donut hole.

“It’s usually the patients who are in worse health who are taking large numbers of prescription drugs. For these people, especially, taking their medications properly and regularly is critical,” said Dr. Woody Eisenberg, vice president and chief medical officer of Medco Retiree Solutions. “The problem is that the more medications prescribed, the harder it is for older people to manage them well and know essential information that can help prevent medication-related harm.”

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