Medication Adherence and You

Jessica Scrudder, Pharm.D. Candidate, Class of 2020 - Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy East Tennessee State University

Medication Adherence and You

Medication adherence is the act of taking a medication as prescribed. This includes consistently taking the proper dose, at the correct time, and for the recommended length of time. Over 50% of the US population doesn’t take their medications as prescribed. Why? The reasons are as varied as the people who have them.

These are some reasons that you may not be taking your medications as intended. Have an open and honest conversation with your pharmacist about your medications and the reasons for not taking them. This could potentially decrease the consequences of medication non-adherence. 

Medication non-adherence costs the US healthcare system 100-300 billion dollars annually, including costs to the patient. Hospital admission rates increase by up to 69% due to non-adherence. Perhaps most shockingly, each year 125,000 people die due to medication non-adherence.

The consequences of not taking medications as prescribed can include...

·        Lack of progress toward goals or recovery à illness progression

·        Unnecessarily high doses or additional medication being added

·        Emergency room visits and avoidable hospitalizations

There are several tools to help you organize and remember to take your medications as intended, like the examples below. Different pharmacies may have different tools and some may be better for your unique situation, so talk with your pharmacist to see what they recommend.

·   Pill Box

o Cheap

o  Can be used with multiple medications

o  Serve as visual reminder

o  Risk of confusing medications after they are taken out of the labeled bottles

·   Blister packaging

o  Contains individual blisters or “packets”

o  Divides medications for specific times (morning, afternoon, evening, bedtime) and dates

o  May be detachable and portable

·   Phone apps

o  There are several phone apps that can help you organize your medications and send you alerts when it is time to take them. Many are free and easy to use. Some examples are:

§ MyMedSchedule

§ MyMeds

§ RxmindMe


How your Pharmacist Can Help:

·   Working with you to identify barriers and helping you come up with a plan to resolve them

·   Recommending combination medicines or better alternative medications to your prescriber

·   Working with you and your prescriber to remove unnecessary medications

·   Syncing medications together, simplifying organization and trips to the pharmacy

References: 2020. Strategies For Medication Adherence. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 April 2020].

Pharmacy Times. 2020. Does Nonadherence Really Cost The Health Care System $300 Billion Annually?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 April 2020].

FierceHealthcare. 2020. A Patient-Centered Approach To Medication Adherence. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 April 2020]. 2020. You’Ve Got Better Things To Do Than Worrying About Your Medication – Glenwood South Pharmacy & Market. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 April 2020].

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