ECONOMIC CRISIS: Family Health Care Costs Will Skyrocket As Patients Cut Back On Prescription Drugs

During these tough economic times, many patients are trying to figure out how to stretch their incomes so that they can afford to buy food, gas, pay the rent, and purchase prescription drugs. Many are deciding to take half the prescribed dose each day or not refilling their prescriptions at all. Not taking the full dose of a medicine can lead to serious medical complications that are far more costly to treat than the price of the prescription.

Rising_Pharmacy_Costs_300px McLean, VA — Dr. Dorothy L. Smith, clinical pharmacist and President and CEO of metropolitan Washington, DC-based Consumer Health Information Corporation (CHIC), addressed the Annual Meeting of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) in Louisville, Kentucky and spoke to an audience comprised of pharmaceutical industry executives, clinicians and researchers on the “Impact of Patient Decision-Making on Patient Outcomes”.

Dr. Smith, a founding member of ACCP, pointed out that patients are making day-to-day decisions on how to manage their prescription drugs. Many do not understand the information they receive from health professionals on how to take a medication and why it has been prescribed. Patients always try to make wise decisions because they are very concerned about risk and know they will have to live with any health and financial consequences.

When patients decide to stop taking a prescription drug, they usually do not discuss their concerns with a health professional. Some of their reasons for stopping a medication include:

“I am not going to follow the treatment recommendations.” “I think it is safer to try juicing, natural remedies, yoga first.” “I am going to adjust the dose because this will lower my chance of developing side effects.” “If I take half the dose, I will save money because the prescription will last longer?” “I am not going to get my next refill because I don’t think the drug is working.” “I am going to wait until I start to feel “sick” again.”

The Washington Post (October 16, 2008) reported the results of a Rockefeller Foundation/Time Magazine survey. Consumers were asked the question: “In the past year, was there ever a time when you have not filled a medical prescription because of cost?” 23% responded “Yes”.

With the current economic crisis, more patients are deciding not to fill their prescriptions. Taking the incorrect dose of some drugs or stopping some medications suddenly could lead to dangerous health problems requiring emergency room visits, additional doctor visits, additional prescription medicines, lost time from work and long-term health problems.

It is far cheaper to take a prescription drug correctly than risk dangerous complications and expensive health care costs that would never have been necessary if the drug had been taken correctly in the first place.

For instance, one patient with high blood pressure decided to stop taking his medication. Stopping the medication caused his blood pressure to increase and this led to major eye complications. He had to be hospitalized for eight days and it cost more than $10,000 for emergency treatment. It would have been safer and cheaper to have taken the high blood pressure medicine.

Dr. Smith urged pharmaceutical companies and health professionals to prepare patient information materials that will help patients better understand how to manage their medications wisely and safely. “Patients will only stay in long-term therapy if they know how to monitor their progress and believe the drug is working. We need to put ourselves in the “patient’s shoes”, and provide them with information that they can understand and trust.”

About Consumer Health Information Corporation

Consumer Health Information Corporation is internationally recognized for our innovative and evidence-based patient education programs that increase patient adherence. The company was founded to help bridge the communications gap between patients and health professionals. The company specializes in the development of patient information programs that patients can understand and trust. The Consumer Health team customizes each patient information program by applying pertinent clinical research and patient adherence to the specific medical condition and the specific product. Patient counseling and behavior modification techniques are integrated with innovative and creative design so that the final patient education product meets the needs of the targeted patient population.

The company is full-service and develops a wide range of patient adherence programs from Phase III through product launches, FDA-approved Patient Package Inserts (PPIs), and consumer educational programs. For more than 25 years, the team of physicians, pharmacists and designers has produced a broad range of award-winning print and multimedia programs for pharmaceutical companies, consumer organizations, health care professionals, medical offices and corporate wellness programs. These FDA-approved materials have helped millions of people learn to make wise decisions about their health and medicines. Click here to view the company’s portfolio.

We work closely with all members of product teams (e.g., medical, marketing, regulatory, consumer advocacy) to develop programs that will enable product teams to maximize sales. Our behavior modification and reinforcement methodologies help motivate patients to stay in therapy and refill their prescriptions on time. Our drug information experts develop extensive documentation that the Regulatory team can use in their FDA submissions for approval of Patient Package Inserts.

The company has served on the Board of Directors for the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE), the National Board of Advisors for the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, and the Dean’s Advisory Council for the University of Cincinnati Medical Center College of Pharmacy, and is also a teaching site for more than 30 schools of pharmacy across the United States.

About ACCP

The American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) is a professional and scientific society that provides leadership, education, advocacy, and resources enabling clinical pharmacists to achieve excellence in practice and research. ACCP’s membership is comprised of practitioners, scientists, educators, administrators, students, residents, fellows, and others committed to excellence in clinical pharmacy and patient pharmacotherapy.