Medication non-adherence can be traced back to numerous causes. For some patients, the side effects of a given medication become too burdensome. Sometimes it is simple forgetfulness that keeps a patient from faithfully taking all prescribed treatment. And then there is the cost burden of treatment. Price barriers account for a significant slice of the non-adherence pie.
Recently, University of South Carolina researchers explored the cost barrier to medication adherence, with a particular eye to any gender differences. The resulting study, published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship found that women were more likely than men to not take their medications due to cost concerns. This non-adherence to oncology therapy, in a group of 15,159 cancer survivors, meant either delaying or avoiding their prescribed care.
Here’s a look at the actual numbers, which reveal the gender disparity: 7.4% of men and 12.5% of women admitted cost-related medication non-adherence. Patients who were uninsured were most likely to experience cost barriers. Patients with Medicare reported the least non-adherence related to medication prices. Even so, gender differences were seen in all insurance types, including the Medicare group. Overall, female cancer patients reported a 27% greater likelihood of experiencing cost-related medication non-adherence than males.
Regardless of insurance source, there are resources available to help cancer (and other disease) patients. Patient foundations offer grants and co-pay assistance. BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy has an entire department to guide patients through the process of seeking financial assistance. In fact, so far this year this department has obtained $17 million in grants to help patients start – and stay on – their essential medications. No patient should see cost barriers as the reason for not taking potentially life-saving medications.
Stephen C. Vogt, Pharm.D.
President and CEO
BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy
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Lee M, Khan MM. Gender differences in cost-related medication non-adherence among cancer survivors. J Cancer Surviv Sept 9, 2015 [Epub ahead of print].