taking medications 325X215Have you ever wondered if the medications you are taking interact with each other or if they are less effective if taken together?  Do you feel that some of your medications are not necessary or possibly making you feel worse?  Have you heard of a friend having a bad experience with a medication that your doctor is now prescribing for you?  These and many other reasons account for the challenges of taking medications correctly.

 In the past, the word compliance, which essentially means “ following doctor’s orders”, was used when referring to taking medications correctly.  What we have realized is that this does not take into account the many variables that come with medication use.

One cannot consistently follow the doctor’s orders if they have doubts the medication is beneficial to them, if they have difficulty remembering to take the medications, or if they cannot afford the medications,

Today, our goal is improving adherence, the extent to which a person’s behavior is consistent with agreed upon recommendations from a healthcare professional.

In order to agree with recommendations, the patient must have an understanding of what is being asked of them and have the ability to follow through. In other words, the recommendation must make sense and be achievable.

 We recognize that there are many barriers to taking medications correctly.  These need to be addressed by the physician, patient, caregiver, and pharmacist in order for the medications to be most effective.

Why is it so difficult to take medications correctly? The answer falls into several categories:
Drug profile: Complex or inconvenient dosing times, side effects, dietary limitations
Disease state: lack of improvement in condition, worsening condition, overwhelming recent diagnosis
Social factors: lack of support, secrecy and shame, poor past experience
Patient: fear of interactions or addiction, doubt medication will work, cognitive issues
Economic factors: price, lack of transportation to pharmacy, difficulties navigating insurance system
Healthcare system: perception of physician and pharmacist being busy, difficulty getting appointments, long wait times at office and pharmacy.

Once a person is able to identify the reason(s) they are having difficulty taking their medications as prescribed, the patient, care giver, physician and pharmacist together can find a solution.  Being aware of the potential barriers to adherence can also benefit friends and family of those struggling.  

For example, the patient may become frustrated because the direction to take two tablets twice a day seems very simple but in reality can raise questions, such as whether it is to be taken on an empty stomach or with food, or at what time. Communication and awareness are key to creating a spirit of patience and understanding in the care of a loved one.

Lori Samer, RPh. is a consultant pharmacist and owner of Medication Matters, LLC.  We are a consulting service that specializes in addressing the challenges of taking medications correctly and optimizing the effectiveness of your medications.  We review your medication list, address concerns about your medications and identify medication related problems all in an effort to improve your health and provide peace of mind. To learn more, please email Lori at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 484-268-8237.

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