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Take As Directed: A Prescription Not Followed
New Survey Shows Improper Medication Use Reaching Crisis Proportions

Baltimore, MD - March 29, 2007 - Nearly three out of every four consumers admit they don't always take their prescription medications as directed. That's the key finding of a new national prescription drug survey released today by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) and Pharmacists for the Protection of Patient Care (P3C). The survey found a major disconnect between consumers' beliefs and their behaviors when it comes to taking medication correctly.

While most consumers believe they are highly compliant when it comes to taking their prescription medications (64% said they follow their physician's instructions "extremely closely"), the survey found they're not nearly as compliant as they believe with nearly three-fourths (74%) admitting to some form of non-adherent behavior.

Key findings:

  • Nearly half (49%) said they had forgotten to take a prescribed medication
  • Nearly one-third (31%) had not filled a prescription they were given
  • Nearly one-quarter (24%) had taken less than the recommended dosage
  • More than one in 10 (11%) had substituted an over-the-counter medication instead of filling the prescription they were given

"These findings are very disturbing," said Bruce Roberts, RPh, NCPA's executive vice president and CEO. "They suggest that patients aren't fully aware of the implications of not taking the right dose of medicine at the right time. Medications are powerful and can be life-saving, but when used improperly actually can harm patients. Even more surprising, fewer than half indicated they had consulted their doctor or pharmacist before making these changes."

The economic impact of patient non-adherence has been estimated at nearly $100 billion per year in increased hospitalizations, doctor visits, lab tests, and nursing home admissions. The human toll may be even higher in terms of diseases not treated, decreased quality of life, and preventable deaths.

"We're talking about much more than dollars and cents here," Roberts said. "It's really the well-being of the American public." "What we need is a systematic approach that helps educate patients on the value of their medications and the importance of taking them exactly as prescribed, as well as one that promotes dialogue with the patients' entire health care team."

The telephone survey of 1,000 adults was conducted by the polling companyTM inc. between Oct. 25-29, 2006. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

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