Importance Of Taking Medications On Time

Importance of taking medications on time.

importance of taking medications

Why You Need to Take Your Medications as Prescribed or Instructed

8 Tips to Sticking to Your Medication Routine

Sticking to your medication routine (or medication adherence) means taking your medications as prescribed – the right dose, at the right time, in the right way and frequency. Why is doing these things important? Simply put, not taking your medicine as prescribed by a doctor or instructed by a pharmacist could lead to your disease getting worse, hospitalization, even death.

The High Cost of Not Taking Your Medicines as Prescribed

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that non-adherence causes 30 to 50 percent of chronic disease treatment failures and 125,000 deaths per year in this country. Twenty five to 50 percent of patients being treated with statins (cholesterol lowering medications) who stop their therapy within one year have up to a 25 percent increased risk for dying.

Statistically speaking: The problem of not taking medicine as prescribed

  • 20 to 30 percent of new prescriptions are never filled at the pharmacy.
  • Medication is not taken as prescribed 50 percent of the time.
  • For patients prescribed medications for chronic diseases, after six months, the majority take less medication than prescribed or stop the medication altogether.
  • Only 51 percent of patients taking medications for high blood pressure continue taking their medication during their long-term treatment.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Why Some Don’t Take Medications as Prescribed

Many patients do not follow health-care provider instructions on how to take medications for various reasons. Such as, not understanding the directions, forgetfulness, multiple medications with different regimens, unpleasant side effects or the medication doesn’t seem to be working. Cost can also be a factor causing medication non-adherence — patients can’t afford to fill their prescriptions or decide to take less than the prescribed dose to make the prescription last longer. “However, to help you get the best results from your medications taking your medicine as instructed is very important,” says Kimberly DeFronzo, R.Ph., M.S., M.B.A., a Consumer Safety Officer in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Tips to Help You Take Your Medicine

Taking your medicine as prescribed or medication adherence is important for controlling chronic conditions, treating temporary conditions, and overall long-term health and well-being. A personal connection with your health-care provider or pharmacist is an important part of medication adherence.  “Because your pharmacist is an expert in medications, they can help suggest how best to take your medications,” says DeFronzo. However, you play the most important part by taking all of your medications as directed.

Here are 8 tips that may help:

  • Take your medication at the same time every day.
  • Tie taking your medications with a daily routine like brushing your teeth or getting ready for bed. Before choosing mealtime for your routine, check if your medication should be taken on a full or empty stomach.
  • Keep a “medicine calendar” with your pill bottles and note each time you take a dose.
  • Use a pill container. Some types have sections for multiple doses at different times, such as morning, lunch, evening, and night.
  • When using a pill container, refill it at the same time each week. For example, every Sunday morning after breakfast.
  • Purchase timer caps for your pill bottles and set them to go off when your next dose is due. Some pill boxes also have timer functions.
  • When travelling, be certain to bring enough of your medication, plus a few days extra, in case your return is delayed.
  • If you’re flying, keep your medication in your carry-on bag to avoid lost luggage. Temperatures inside the cargo hold could damage your medication.

Here are two very useful FDA websites with more tips and tools to help you take your medication as prescribed: “Are You Taking Your Medication as Prescribed?” and “Updates and Information for Consumers.”

If you have questions about your medication, don’t be shy — ask your health-care provider or pharmacist and don’t delay.  Remember, the life you save may be your own!

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Medication problems: Taking drugs at wrong times

Medication problems

Medication problems

Pharmacists could intervene more often with provider status

“Lynette” was taking 16 different medications. Some were for hypertension, others for diabetes, and others still for heart disease, along with a handful of supplements. Though she seemed to be adherent—the regularity of her refills suggested as much—her blood pressure was anything but under control. Sometimes it was too high; other times it was too low. So Lynette contacted Kathleen Brown, BSPharm, at Munson Community Health Center Pharmacy, in Traverse City, MI, for medication therapy management (MTM).

Brown reviewed each of the 16 medications with Lynette, who correctly reported how often she should take each medication. .

“She seemed so good, but unless I have the time to talk to people, I can’t get to what’s really wrong,” Brown said.

Time with a patient is increasingly difficult to come by. Because physicians struggle within the confines of the 10-minute visit, they share patient care with other members of the care team, including pharmacists. But pharmacists, like Brown and others in this series, also face barriers to spending quality time with patients. Most insurers don’t cover pharmacist services because, unlike most health professionals, pharmacists do not have provider status.

Lynette’s health plan did cover MTM services, so Brown was able to keep probing until she found the cause of the problem. “I said, ‘So, 16 medications? How are you remembering to take all of these?’” Brown recalled. Lynette’s answer told Brown everything she needed to know.

Every morning, Lynette put all the day’s pills into a bowl in the middle of her dining room table. Every time she walked by, she took a handful without consideration for what she should take when, which pills she shouldn’t take together, and which ones she should take with food.

“The meds that she was supposed to be taking in the morning and at night, at least some of the time, she was taking together as a single dose, sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon, sometimes at bedtime,” Brown said. “Her timing could have been virtually anything with a mixture like that to grab from.”

Working within Lynette’s “bowl system,” Brown recommended dividing the pills into two bowls, one for the morning and one for the evening. And Lynette’s blood pressure soon improved.

Unlike Lynette, not everyone can access a pharmacist to help make their medications work for them. Brown gets frequent calls from people who have been referred by physicians, nurses, colleagues, and Brown’s previous patients. Brown often has to tell them that their insurance doesn’t cover the comprehensive medication review necessary to address their concerns, and offers them a cash payment alternative. If patients can’t afford the review, Brown can only provide abbreviated assistance within the scope of the typical pharmacist–patient relationship; she can’t conduct a comprehensive assessment of all a patient’s medications for free for fear she could be charged with insurance fraud.

“I will try to help them in a short way. But most things don’t come in the first seconds that you’re talking to somebody,” Brown said. “It tears me up because I want so badly to provide this service. I know how much it can help people, but I don’t have the means to do that.”

Every day, Brown and pharmacists like her affirm the adage, “Listen to your patient. He is telling you the diagnosis.” While pharmacists don’t diagnose conditions, they are expert at diagnosing problems in a medication regimen. But they are rarely afforded the time to listen.

Even when health insurance does include MTM, the benefit is usually for about one session a year. “It’s awfully hard to do one interaction once a year and see huge changes in their behaviors. It’s a bit unrealistic,” Brown said. “If I could change MTM in one way it would be to have more interaction with patients.”

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How Online Pharmacies Work

How Online Pharmacies Work

How Online Pharmacies Work

An online pharmacyinternet pharmacy, or mail-order pharmacy is a pharmacy that operates over the internet and sends the orders to customers through mail or shipping companies.

Online pharmacies might include:

  • Pharmacy benefit manager – A large administrator of corporate prescription drug plans
  • Legitimate Internet pharmacy in the same country as the person ordering
  • Legitimate Internet pharmacy in a different country than the person ordering. This pharmacy usually is licensed by its home country and follows those regulations, not those of the international orders.
  • Illegal or unethical internet pharmacy. The web page for an illegal pharmacy may contain lies about its home country, procedures, or certifications. The “pharmacy” may send outdated (expired shelf life) or counterfeit medications and may not follow normal procedural safeguards.

Home delivery

Conventional stationary pharmacies usually have controlled drug distribution systems from the manufacturer. Validation and good distribution practices are followed. Home delivery of pharmaceuticals can be a desirable convenience but sometimes there can be problems with uncontrolled distribution.

The shipment of drugs through the mail and parcel post is sometimes a concern for temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals. Uncontrolled shipping conditions can include high and low temperatures outside of the listed storage conditions for a drug. For example, the US FDA found the temperature in a mail box in the sun could reach 136 °F (58 °C) while the ambient air temperature was 101 °F (38 °C)

Shipment by express mail and couriers reduces transit time and often involves delivery to the door, rather than a mail box. The use of insulated shipping containers also helps control drug temperatures, reducing risks to drug safety and efficacy.


Risks and concerns

  • Illegal or unethical pharmacies sometimes send outdated, substituted, or counterfeit medications
  • Sometimes an online pharmacy may not be located in the country that is claimed. For example, one study of drug shipments claiming to be from Canada revealed many actually originated in several different countries and were often bogus medications
  • Minors or children can order controlled substances without adult supervision
  • Other concerns include potential lack of confidentiality, improper packaging, inability to check for drug interactions, and several other issues.

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