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4 reasons why patients don’t take their medications

I often see patients for follow-up and learn they are not taking the medications either I or another health care provider prescribed. Sometimes the reason is obvious, and other times the patient is reluctant to give up the information. Patients have the right to take or not take medication that was prescribed. But, sometimes by not doing so, they are putting their health at risk.

As a doctor, I want my patients to take the medications I prescribed otherwise I would not have done so. In exploring reasons patients often donâ€t take their medications, many of these are due to misconceptions, lack of clarity or other factors that may be easily corrected. And most often it is not the patients’ fault.

Why do patients do not take their meds?

Cost. Some patients simply cannot afford the cost. The doctor may send the prescription thinking it is the best medication for the patient but then the patients shows up at the pharmacy and learns the price is out of their budget. Many times it is because the medication is not n their insurance companies™ formularies, so they are forced to foot the entire cost themselves. Sometimes the patient is too embarrassed to call their doctor back and admit this, so they go without. But, many alternatives are available in this case. An equivalent medication of the same class may be available that is on the formulary, or maybe a generic of another class may get the job done. The doctors’ office can do a prior-authorization and try to get coverage for the non-formulary medication, although this does not always work. But, no patients should go without needed medication. With the costs of pharmaceuticals these days, these drugs have become cost-prohibitive for most people without any coverage.

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