Host: Captain Catherine Chew
Pharmacist: Dr. Sonia Kim
CAPT Chew: Medication adherence, or taking medications correctly, is generally defined as the extent to which patients take medication as prescribed by their health care provider. This involves factors such as getting prescriptions filled, remembering to take medication on time, and understanding the directions.
Hi, I’m Captain Catherine Chew and this is Drug Info Rounds, brought to you by the pharmacists in FDA’s Division of Drug Information.
I’m joined by Dr. Sonia Kim, who has some background information on why medication adherence is so important.
Dr. Kim: Poor medication adherence can interfere with the ability to treat many diseases, leading to greater complications and a lower quality of life. Common barriers to medication adherence include:
- the inability to pay for medications
- disbelief that the treatment is necessary or helping
- difficulty keeping up with multiple medications and complex dosing schedules
- confusion about how and when to take the medication)
As pharmacists we have a responsibility to help our patients break through these barriers. One of the best strategies is asking questions. Ask your patient to discuss any side effects or problems they are having. Explain that you can’t help find solutions to problems you don’t know exist. Open and honest communication with your patients is a critical and sometimes overlooked step in achieving medication adherence.
CAPT Chew: There are some specific strategies pharmacists can teach their patients to simplify even complex regimens.
Dr. Kim: Setting daily routines is one strategy. It can be helpful to connect taking medication with daily activities, such as eating meals or going to bed. Using daily dosing containers that have the time and day of the week can also be useful. Pharmacists should be familiar with the dosing containers sold where they work.
We also offer a tip sheet online called “Stop—Learn—Go—Tips for Talking with Your Pharmacist to Learn How to Use Medicines Safely”. Our web site contains articles, public service announcements, and slide show presentations on ensuring safe medication use.
Scriptyourfuture.org is a great online resource to help patients improve medication adherence. Wallet cards, videos, posters, and door hangers are available. These materials can be kept in pharmacies and given to patients.
CAPT Chew: We must remind patients that with high medication adherence - they can take charge of their health and their future!
If you have questions about medication adherence, call or email FDA’s Division of Drug Information.