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Patients can't afford to be cheap on medication therapies


WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — Sticker shock is often a major factor in any person's purchasing decisions, but while deciding to put off buying a new car might not have catastrophic consequences, not filling a prescription because it costs too much can.

(THE NEWS: Pharmacists say cost is biggest barrier to Rx adherence. Click here to read the story.) 

By consulting with patients, pharmacists are in a good position to knock some sense into patients who might consider stopping medication therapies by reminding them, for example, that the consequences of non-adherence can be more expensive in the long run than the drugs themselves, including trips to emergency rooms and complications related to the disease being treated. Health is at least one area in which one can't afford to be cheap.

At the same time, they may be able to help patients save some money as well. If patients are anxious about taking expensive branded drugs, the pharmacist can tell them about possible generic alternatives. They can also tell patients about possible discounts through drug makers' patient-assistant programs.

But it's important to remember that while cost may be the biggest reason for medication non-adherence, it's only one of many reasons. For example, a recent study led by a researcher at Northwestern University found that more than one-fifth of children's Medicaid prescriptions are never filled, though prescriptions for antibiotics and those sent electronically were more likely to be filled, and the researchers suggested there were "system-level factors" that affected primary adherence.

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