The top reasons that physicians believe patients don’t take medicines as prescribed are (1) affordability and (2) patients believing they don’t need the meds.
AstraZeneca has surveyed 200 physicians about patients and prescription adherence and found the following given as reasons for not taking meds:
  • Affordability (20%)
  • Patient does not feel they need the medication (20%)
  • Side effects (17%)
  • Forgetfulness (16%)
  • Lack of concern for their condition (5%)
  • Lack of information on disease or treatment (5%)
  • Lack of information on the drug they are prescribed (5%)
  • Lack of family/social support (5%)
  • Low satisfaction with the drug they are prescribed (3%)
  • Poor relationship with myself or another physician (2%)
  • Patient received prior recommendation against the drug either by another health professional or patient (2%).

Two-thirds of physicians believe that they have the most influence of whether patients take medications as prescribed; 30% believe that the caregivers have more influence. 6% believe it’s the health plan that wields the most influence over prescription adherence.

If you think patients are dissing prescriptions only for asymptomatic conditions like high blood pressure, you’re dead wrong.

The Rx “affordability” hurdle is demonstrated by new data released by Thomson Reuters, which has found that some cancer patients avoid treatment due to cost. According to Thomson, 25% of patients with late-stage cancer whose incomes are under $40,000 choose not to undergo recommended care.

In their report, The Cost of Cancer, Thomson analyzes 1,767 survey responses completed by cancer patients. Thomson identifies what they term “a clear link” between income and the acquisition of cancer treatment.

The difference between patients of varying income levels is striking: overall, 12.3% of late-stage cancer patients refuse cancer treatment due to its expense. By income level:

  • 25% of late-stage cancer patients who earn less than $40,000 a year choose not to undergo a recommended treatment due to cost
  • 11% of those earning between $40,000 and $80,000 per year refuse treatment
  • 5% those earning more than $80,000 annually refuse treatment for cancer.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: Last November, Highmark, the Blues plan in Pittsburgh, began to offer what it marketed as “the ultimate get-well card:” a debit card for health expenses.

The card may be an even bigger hit this year.
Archstone Consulting released the results of its 2008 Holiday Gift Card Survey in late September. They forecast that, in reaction to the economic downturn, consumers will spend less on gift cards in Holiday 2008 and will also shift their gift card spending towards household necessities such as groceries, gas, and fast food.
Archstone also sees that, “Consumers are gravitating toward cards that allow them the flexibility to purchase household needs at the gas station, supermarket, or pharmacy,” according to their research.