Medicine adherence can be a challenge for many patients. One study found that as many as one in three patients never fill their prescriptions. Furthermore, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that patients improperly take medication nearly half the time it is prescribed.
For patients with mental and/or behavioral disorders and illness, medication adherence is acutely important. Even if only a few doses have been skipped, noncompliance can lead to worsening clinical status, emergency department visits and hospitalization.
To address this need, the FDA recommends following the following eight guidelines for safe prescription medicine use:
- Always follow the prescription medication directions carefully.
- Don't raise or lower medication doses without talking with your doctor first.
- Never stop taking medication on your own.
- Don't crush or break pills, especially if the pills are time-released.
- Be clear about the drug's effects on driving and other daily tasks.
- Learn about the effects the prescription medicine can have when it's taken with alcohol and other prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
- Talk honestly with your doctor about any history of substance abuse.
- Never allow other people to use your prescription medications and don't take theirs.
Mental health care professionals should routinely check in with patients about adherence. For patients who are not taking their medicines properly because of cost, other options exist. Patients who are uninsured, underinsured or struggling with the cost of medicines may qualify for drug assistance through the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA), a free and confidential service designed to help people match with programs that could provide them with their medicines for free or at a discount.
If you or someone you love struggles with affordable access to medicines, there are resources available that may be able to help: The Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) helps connect patients with patient assistance programs that provide free or nearly free prescription medicines. For more information, visit www.pparx.org.