Researchers recently examined nearly 200,000 prescriptions written for more than 75,500 patients by 1,217 doctors in Massachusetts over the course of one year in order to determine drug adherence rates among patients. They found that between a quarter and a third of prescriptions were never filled. For example, 28.4 percent of scripts for hypertension went unfilled, as did 28.2 percent for high cholesterol and 31.4 percent for diabetes. Another recent study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, reported that up to half of all patients do not “adhere faithfully” to their drug regimens.
The authors of both studies pondered why compliance with the 3.8 billion prescriptions written annually is so poor. Proposed reasons included out-of-pocket costs and lack of coordination of “multiple medications prescribed by multiple physicians,” along with “individual” factors such as “lifestyle, psychological issues, health literacy, support systems, and side effects of medications.” Of course, the gist of these articles was how to improve adherence to drug regimens.
I believe that if physicians took the time to truly listen, they would know why so many of their patients avoid prescription drugs. Cost is certainly an issue, but the authors of the second article admitted that 40 percent of people whose health plans don’t require co-payments still fail to take their drugs as instructed. As for multiple meds from multiple physicians—well, that’s just bad doctoring, plain and simple.
Patients at Whitaker Wellness tell me why they don’t comply. Most of them don’t like the idea of taking drugs, and many have firsthand experience with adverse side effects. They also believe that lifestyle changes and other natural therapies are the way to go—and we provide them with the support system they need to carry these treatments out. As for “health literacy,” most folks feel that they know more about this approach than their conventional physicians, who simply write prescriptions and send them out the door. Yet, to spare feelings and avoid confrontation, they take the scripts with no intention of ever filling them.
Drugs do have a place in medicine, but nowhere near to the degree that they are being prescribed today. In this first story, I’m going to tell you about a treatment for diabetes that works better than most medications—and doesn’t even require a prescription.
From: Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. Photocopying, reproduction, or quotation strictly prohibited without permission from the publisher. To subscribe to Health & Healing, click here.