Prescription “Stretching” Harms Health

BioPlus BlogHealth care costs for patients, including prescription medications, continue to rise. Out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions reached $45 billion for Americans in 2011 (the most recent year data is available). For a growing number of people, Rx costs simply exceed their ability to pay.

Overburdened Americans rely on two less-than-healthy methods to stretch their health care dollar and lower their prescription medication costs, according to data gathered from a National Health Interview Survey and released earlier this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Skipping medication doses
  • Delaying filling their prescriptions 

Both of these cost-saving improvisations by patients could bring dire health consequences. Safer methods, according to this same data set, are the approximately 20 percent of patients who ask their prescribers if there’s a lower cost alternative for their prescription. Even so, 12.6 percent of adults (ages 18-64) admit to “stretching their prescriptions” in order to save money. Only 5.8 percent of adults age 65+ reduce prescription drug costs in this way.

Deviating from a plan of care by not taking prescriptions as prescribed negatively affects health outcomes, burdens ERs, and increases the risk of hospitalizations.

BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy partners with our patients so they understand the importance of sticking with their plan of care. By engaging each patient as an active participant in the treatment process, providing counseling about drug therapy management, discussing side effects, and connecting patients in need of financial support with patient foundations, we succeed in extremely high patient compliance.

In fact, in a recent one-month analysis of 3,124 BioPlus patients (including oncology, hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis, and those treated with Ig therapy), medication compliance reached 97.3 percent. A number we are proud of and one that greatly exceeds the average compliance shown in the CDC data.

Stephen C Vogt, PharmD
President and CEO
BioPlus SP

Cohen RA, Kirzinger WK, Gindi RM. Strategies used by adults to reduce their prescription drug costs. NCHS data brief, no 119. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2013.
Edney A. Adults skipping medicines to save money, research finds. Wash Post April 9, 2013.

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