More to Hear on Nonadherence

More to Hear on Nonadherence

03.28.12 | By Kate Connors

Wall Street Journal reporter Shirley Wang wrong a post for the Health Blog yesterday that was pretty jarring: "Most Parents Don't Fill Their Kids' Asthma Meds."

The original study, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was intended to evaluate "whether out-of-pocket costs for medications influenced parents' willingness to fill prescriptions for their children's asthma."

However, the post explains, a variety of factors besides price are to blame, with a particular emphasis on the fact that because asthma typically doesn't show symptoms on a daily basis, parents may quite simply forget. After all, parents who themselves suffer from asthma are more likely to fill their children's prescriptions.

The issue, of course, is that when children have an asthma attack, they need their inhalers - there's no time to run to the pharmacy. And other asthma medicines - those that control the asthma, not the rapid-use inhalers - are useful in helping kids avoid traumatic attacks.

The lack of adherence associated with these unfilled prescriptions tells another story, too, Wang writes: "Analyses from insurance claims for nearly 9,000 U.S. children between 1997 and 2007 showed that an increase in out-of-pocket costs for daily asthma-control drugs was associated with slightly lower medication adherence (41.7% vs. 40.3%) and higher rates of hospitalizations (1.7 hospital visits per 100 kids vs. 2.4 visits) in kids 5- to 18-years old. These are statistically significant differences."

In other words, nonadherence doesn't save money by avoiding co-pays; it costs money by not controlling the disease.

Previous studies have, in the past, evaluated the effect of high co-pays on adherence. Because of the importance of adherence to patient health, several programs are available to help; scroll to the end of the blog post I just linked to learn more.

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