By Rebecca Burkholder
Taking medication as directed may seem simple, but non-adherence among people with chronic conditions is a complex and widespread problem. Nearly three out of four Americans report that they do not always take their medications as directed, leading to serious health consequences and avoidable costs.
There are many reasons why people do not take their medication as directed, but the result is the same – they don’t receive the therapy that their health care professionals have prescribed for them, leading to more serious health complications, reduced quality of life and even death.
The impact of non-adherence on public health is a growing concern, as the number of Americans affected by at least one chronic condition requiring medication therapy is expected to grow from 133 to 157 million by 2020. Failing to take medication as prescribed causes more than one-third of medication-related hospitalizations and nearly 125,000 deaths in the United States each year. It also adds $290 billion in avoidable costs to the health care system annually.
These are a few of the many reasons why the National Consumers League (NCL) will launch the Script Your Future campaign in Baltimore this Wednesday, alongside U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot and other area stakeholders in health care, business and government. Baltimore is one of six markets nationally where Script Your Future aims to raise awareness among consumers and their family caregivers about the importance of taking medication as prescribed as a vital first step toward a longer, healthier life.
Script Your Future focuses on patients affected by three serious chronic conditions – diabetes, respiratory disease and cardiovascular disease. The campaign encourages patients and health care professionals to better communicate about medication, and offers tools and resources to help improve adherence.
Improving medication adherence is in all of our best interests, which is why Baltimore-area residents are invited to attend the Script Your Future launch at the Maryland Science Center this Wednesday, Nov. 2, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Representatives from the local coalition of more than 30 Baltimore-based health care stakeholders, including the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, the Maryland Pharmacists Association, Pfizer and CareFirst, will be in attendance. The event is also an official stop on the AARP/Walgreens Wellness Tour, which will provide free health tests to the public.
Please consider joining us on Wednesday to learn more about Script Your Future. For more information, or to download tools for patients and family caregivers to improve medication adherence, visit www.ScriptYourFuture.org.
Rebecca Burkholder is Vice President of Health Policy for the National Consumers League.