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People with asthma, diabetes and high cholesterol worst at taking medication

Not taking your medication properly? It costs money – and could cost you your life.

NEED TO TAKE medication regularly? If you have asthma, diabetes or high cholesterol, you could be among the worst at doing this essential task.

A new report into non-adherence to medicines has been published today by Pfizer Healthcare Ireland in association with the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) and the Irish Patients’ Association (IPA).

Medication non-adherence costs EU governments an estimated €125 billion, and also contributes to the premature deaths of nearly 200,000 Europeans annually.


Forgetfulness was the main reason patients said they missed their medication (71 per cent).

Other reasons patients were:

  • They thought that they didn’t need the medication any more (20 per cent)
  • They feel better (16 per cent)
  • They are anxious about the side effects (5 per cent)
  • They don’t believe that the medication was effective (4 per cent).

Of the conditions requiring regular medication, patients with asthma, diabetes and high cholesterol reported the lowest levels of adherence – 30 per cent in people with high cholesterol and 31 per cent in people with asthma or diabetes.

Over half (52 per cent) of carers said that the person they care for regularly forgets to take their medication.

The three factors ranked most important in ensuring people do take their medication are:

  • Talking regularly to the doctor (74 per cent)
  • Having a good understanding of the illness (42 per cent)
  • Having a good understanding of the medication (40 per cent).

While 18 per cent of people said they are not fully adherent all of the time, this rises to 23 per cent in men, and also 23 per cent in those under 35.

Of those who sometimes miss their medication, 64 per cent miss it one or more times a week. Those who miss their medication are significantly more likely to have two or more conditions.

The report recommends that regular patient review might be required for some patients groups more than others, and in some disease areas more than others to improve medication taking.

Rory O’Donnell, President of the IPU said pharmacists are ideally placed to tackle this problem, by educating patients and helping them make informed decisions about their medicines.


So, what’s recommended to deal with this problem?

  • Personalised interventions
  • Access to training for healthcare professionals
  • A collaborative approach involving the patient in their health management
  • Increasing the use of memory aids – 76 per cent of Irish patients claim to have no formal method or system to help them monitor or remind them to take their medicines.

Read: Pharmacists want migraine medicine taken off prescription>

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