National Consumers League

Partnering for a healthy America -- How to improve medication adherence


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92_ayannaBy Ayanna Johnson, Health Policy Associate NCL was proud to be a part of a new initiative Prescriptions for a Healthy America: A Partnership to Advance Medication Adherence that launched on May 2. This initiative is a partnership of patients, health care providers, pharmacy organizations, consumers, and health care industry leaders that are working together to advance policy solutions to improve patient health and reduce health care costs through improving rates of adherence. NCL has been a leader in the medication adherence arena with its public education campaign Script Your Future. Launched in 2011, Script Your Future works to raise awareness among consumers, their family caregiver and health care professionals about the importance of taking medications as directed. Non-adherence costs the health care industry an estimated $290 billion a year and 125,000 people lose their lives annually from complications related to non-adherence. The stakes are high when it comes to encouraging patients to take their medication as directed. A panel discussion, , announcing the launch of this new initiative included various players, including the National Consumers League, interested in improving rates of adherence.  Often patients have rational reasons for not adhering to their medicines; barriers such as cost, side effects and confusion about the purpose of medication all contribute to non-adherence. Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of National Consumers League, stressed that improving the communication between patients and their health care providers—communicating the consequences of poor adherence and impact of medication—increases the likelihood of better adherence. Anita Allemand, Vice President of Product Innovation and Management for CVS Caremark noted that patients could save $8,000 a year with improved adherence. She added that the most critical element of improving adherence is face-to-face interactions between healthcare professionals and patients. Dr. Rebecca Jaffe a board member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and family doctor said that health care professionals must engage their patients. “It is important that heath care professionals talk with them, not at them,” she said. Patients are often hesitant or unwilling to ask their doctors or pharmacists the essential questions that would enable increased adherence. Opening up this new line of communication and ensuring that patients feel comfortable asking questions and expressing worries about potential side effects, or how different drugs might affect each other, or what a patient can expect from a particular prescription will help people understand the need to adhere. This new initiative is an exciting opportunity to bring together different voices from all parties concerned with the issue of non-adherence to work towards practical policy solutions. For more information about the initiative please visit the newly launched Web site. For more information on the Script Your Future campaign visit www.scriptyourfuture.org.