Overcoming Lupus Medication Compliance Challenges

The health challenges of lupus can be debilitating, yet two out of three lupus patients cared under Medicaid do not fully comply with their medication treatment plan. This new statistic emerged from a presentation at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals.

Poorly controlled lupus can lead to disease flare-ups and a greater chance of kidney damage, kidney failure, cognitive problems (headache, dizziness, behavior changes, and confusion), blood problems, breathing problems, heart problems, infections, cancer, and pregnancy complications.

Lupus is an inflammatory autoimmune disease. Women are more likely than men to get lupus, as are African-Americans compared to Caucasians. Lupus symptoms can vary from mild to severe and may come and go over time. Common symptoms include painful, swollen joints, muscle pain, fever, rash, and sensitivity to the sun.

With Medicaid, lupus patients’ medications come at either low or even no cost. Yet, according to the data presented at the conference, patient compliance was disappointing over the six-month period that the patients were tracked.

During the six months of this study, adherence reached 80 percent for each medication with the following frequency:


Since the stakes are so high with lupus, one wonders why compliance would be an issue for the majority of patients in this study. Yet, study after study shows that serious diseases of all kinds face compliance issues. When patients can rely on a clinical pharmacist who specializes in specialty medications and adherence, many of these compliance hurdles can be overcome. This is precisely what we accomplish at BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy with our patients. Improving adherence has a clear and beneficial effect on health outcomes.


What do you think

I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments section below.

Stephen C Vogt, PharmD
President and CEO BioPlus SP


Susman E. Lupus patients on Medicaid skip meds. MePage Today Nov 1, 2013.
Yazdany J, et al. Poor adherence to medications for systemic lupus erythematosus among U.S. Medicaid beneficiaries. ACR 2013;Abstract 1588.

Leave a Reply