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No Meds Rx: Why People Stop Taking Medications

Posted Sep 03 2010 8:22am

Why people stop taking their prescribed medications is really important, because everyone loses.

The patient and her family lose the needed medical effect. The clinician and clinic lose a tool. Employer and health insurance company lose an employee’s health and dollars. Pharma company loses continuity and a customer.

Reasons fall into 3 categories: reminders; financial/physical; and communication. Today, just reminders. Next week, money.

Many clinicians miss the chance to simplify dosing. Adding another med to an existing regime is what we are trained to do…not minimize.

Most doctors are taught in school to think twice before prescribing a combo product–those with two medicines combined–because the action is hard to trace. Yet, doing just that can help patients remember to take their one medicine, instead of two.

I’ve recommended pill boxes, which are cheap and effective. Pill reminders now come in free phone Apps , but post-its can help. Putting your pills by your toothbrush or site of another daily activity can help.

The older term for not taking meds, is noncompliance: I’m even on record in the Hastings Center Report using it. The newer, more accepted term is “patient adherence”: patient as partner is closer to what will help most.

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