Take Your Meds, Please!
When people forget, refuse or can’t afford to take prescription
drugs as prescribed, the consequences can be grave and
expensive—for patients and employers.
BY JARED SHELLY
What affects millions of Americans, can lead to long-term health risks and costs hundreds of billions of dollars per year annually? The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Think again.
It’s actually a lack of adherence
to prescription medications. In fact,
non-adherence costs the economy
$290 billion per year in avoidable
medical expenses, according to the
New England Healthcare Institute,
a Cambridge, Mass.-based nonprofit
In addition to the monetary toll,
the American Pharmacists Association
reports there are 1.5 million
preventable adverse events each year
because of non-adherence, including
injuries and death. If that weren’t
enough, a report by researchers at
Brigham and Women’s Hospital in
Boston finds 22 percent of patients
don’t even fill their prescriptions. That
number jumps to 28 percent for first-
A Carrot/Stick Approach?
On the surface, an employee who’s
not filling a prescription might initially
save his or her employer money, says
David Dross, the national practice
leader of Mercer’s managed pharmacy
consulting group in Houston. But costs
quickly mount up on the back end.