Rx Drug Costs Limit Compliance, Survey Finds
More than one-fifth of adults did not fill at least one prescription during the last year because of the cost, suggesting that rising co-payments are serving as a barrier to drug compliance, according to a new survey released last week by Harris Interactive, the AP/Nando Times reports (de Bourbon, AP/Nando Times, 11/28). In a telephone survey in June of 1,010 adults from across the country, 14% said they had taken a smaller dose of a prescription than prescribed in the past year because of cost, 16% said they had taken a dose less often than prescribed to save money and 22% said they did not fill a prescription for the same reason. In addition, the survey found that in "low income groups" -- people earning below $15,000 and between $15,000 and $25,000 annually -- noncompliance, or not following the orders of a prescription, as a cost-saving measure was approximately "twice as high" as found "among all adults" (Harris Interactive poll, 11/21). Still, the survey showed that even some people in higher income ranges also are affected by rising drug costs, as 12% of people earning $75,000 or more per year said they did not get a prescription filled last year because of the expense (AP/Nando Times, 11/28). In addition, the survey found that people with disabilities, "many of whom are quite heavy users of prescription drugs," are also disproportionately affected -- 35% did not fill a prescription for medicine due to the cost; 27% took medicine in smaller doses than prescribed; and 28% took medicine less often than prescribed. According to the report, "serious health consequences" may arise from noncompliance toward prescription medications used to treat chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol levels. The report also notes that noncompliance could cost pharmaceutical companies "billions of dollars." It concludes that as employers look to increase employee cost-sharing by introducing tiered prescription drug plans, "noncompliance for financial reasons will probably increase. This is probably bad news for public health and certainly bad news for the pharmaceutical industry" (Harris Interactive poll, 11/21). The results of the survey are available at http://www.harrisinteractive.com/news/newsletters/healthnews/HI_HealthCareNews2001Vol1_iss32.pdf. Note: You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the results.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.