non-adherence to medicines

A new report into non-adherence to medicines has revealed that non-adherence is costing EU governments an estimated €125 billion and contributing to the premature deaths of nearly 200,000 Europeans annually.

Non adherence image
Mr Stephen McMahon,
CEO of the Irish Patients’ Association

The report, titled ‘A Report on Patient Non-Adherence in Ireland’ reviews existing international literature on medication adherence and outlines results from an Irish survey examining adherence in Ireland and the factors which hinder it and promote it.

Non-intentional non-adherence is significantly more common that intentional non-adherence with ‘forgetfulness’ the main reason patients report for missing their medication. Other reasons patients are intentionally non-adherent include patient perception that they don’t need the medication any more , they feel better, they are anxious about the side effects or they don’t believe that the medication was effective.Patients who were reviewed by healthcare professionals within the last month tended to be more adherent to their treatment than patients who had longer time intervals between reviews.

Rory O’Donnell, President of the IPU said “Pharmacists are among the most accessible and most consulted healthcare professionals and are therefore ideally placed to tackle non-adherence to medication, by educating patients, helping them make informed decisions about their medicines and supporting them in adhering to their prescribed therapy, thus ensuring that, by taking the right medicines in the right way at the right time, patients achieve the optimum benefit.”

A number of recommendations to help improve adherence levels among Irish patients are outlined in the report. These include personalised interventions to overcome non-adherence, access to training for healthcare professionals, a collaborative approach involving the patient in their health management and increasing the use of memory aids to help patients increase adherence. According to the survey, 76% of Irish patients claim to have no formal method or system to help them monitor or remind them to take their medicines.

The three factors ranked most important in ensuring people do take their medication are talking regularly to the doctor, having a good understanding of the illness and having a good understanding of the medication.

Speaking about the launch of the report, Mr. Stephen McMahon, CEO of the Irish Patients’ Association said “This report is another step forward in patient safety by making us aware of the level that Irish patients do not adhere to their prescription medication regimes. It is evident that all those involved with the patient i.e. the doctor, the pharmacist, the nurse, the payer, the policy maker and the manufacturer, should play a role in promoting the importance of adhering to prescribed medication. As a patient advocate with a passion for embedding a culture of patient safety everywhere, my call to action to patients is: Take your medicines as advised. And to healthcare professionals at every opportunity ask your patients “Have you taken your medicines today?”

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