About 30% of Canadians are not taking their medications as prescribed, according to a survey by the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA).
Citing repeat visits to clinics and emergency rooms, recurring illnesses and worsening medical conditions, CPhA is urging expanded programs for health advice and services.
The survey, conducted earlier this year, reveals that 25 percent of Canadians either did not fill a prescription or took less medication than was prescribed. And among the people who did take the prescription correctly, 30 percent stopped taking medication before they were advised to.
Among Canadians who didn’t fill their prescriptions, 20 percent attributed their non-adherence to the fact that either their drug plan didn’t cover all the costs while 12 percent said they didn’t have insurance.
Of those Canadians who did not take their medication as directed or stopped taking their medication, 45% said they felt better and didn’t see any reason to continue, 18% felt the medications weren’t helping them, or made them feel sick. And 8% said they couldn’t afford to keep taking the medication.
In the U.S. an estimated three out of four Americans do not take their medication as directed, according to the American Heart Association. According to data from 2013, 125,000 American die due to not taking their medications properly. And the association estimates it costs the U.S. economy $300 billion a year in doctor visits, emergency department visits and hospitalizations.
While taking medication as prescribed is a personal decision, and can be affected by varying factors from cost, taste and difficulty swallowing, the Heart Association said that not taking medication seriously is only going to make matters worse.
The Canadian results come on the heels on a nationwide survey showing support of a pan-Canadian pharmacare program.
“There is a clear need for a pharmacare policy to address the gaps between private and public systems to ensure no Canadian is left without adequate coverage,” said Perry Eisenschmid, CEO, Canadian Pharmacists Association.
“We also need to provide the solutions for the medication adherence issues costing our health care system.”
Eisenschmid said pharmacists are in an ideal position to improve the management of chronic diseases, increase health promotion efforts and contribute to the reduction of health care costs, by encouraging optimal medication use. CPhA estimates more than 600-million prescriptions are filled each year by the country’s 390,000 pharmacists.