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UGA pharmacists offers strategies to improve medication compliance

UGA pharmacist offers strategies to improve medication compliance

Athens, Ga. – Half of all patients don’t take their medications as directed, putting their health at risk and potentially driving up the cost of their health care.

In Patient Compliance with Medications: Issues and Opportunities (Pharmaceutical Products Press, $32.95), Jack Fincham, A.W. Jowdy Professor of Pharmacy Care at the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy, offers physicians, pharmacists and other health care professionals a look at why many patients don’t take their medicine as directed. The book also provides simple strategies that can help improve compliance.

“Health care professionals pay a lot of attention to vital signs such as temperature, pulse and blood pressure,” Fincham said. “And in this book I make the point that people’s drug taking compliance ought to be a vital sign, as well.”

In the 232-page book, Fincham explores:

  • * How drug cost, treatment regimen and other factors affect compliance;
  • The costs and consequences of noncompliance;
  • How health care professionals can improve compliance among patients; and
  • How the British emphasis on concordance, which focuses on shared decision making between the patient and health care providers, can influence compliance.

Fincham said the aging population and the increased reliance on drugs to treat and manage conditions make compliance a critically important issue. In many cases, patient noncompliance can drive up the cost of health care by necessitating more expensive treatments later on. A patient who does not take his blood pressure medicine, for example, is at greater risk for stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure.

“The average rate of compliance is 50 percent in the United States across all therapies, age groups and socioeconomic statuses,” Fincham said. “It’s a significant problem because of the sheer percentage of patients involved as well as what happens in terms of further costs when people aren’t compliant.”