The patients on the TV show “Scrubs” might refuse treatment for reasons that are philosophical (the right to die without being poked at) or wacky (not by a male nurse), but in the real world, people often refuse to take medications for reasons that baffle us. Overall, 40 percent to 70 percent of people don't follow their prescribed medication regimen, and more than 20 percent of new prescriptions go unfilled, even when the meds are free. These often are life-or-death medications: 26 percent of the first prescriptions for insulin and at least 20 percent for oral diabetes medications are left behind the pharmacy counter. The result? Uncontrolled blood sugar levels that lead to heart, kidney, nerve, vascular and eye damage. Thirty percent of antihypertensive prescriptions also go unfilled; more than half of those who do fill them stop taking the meds as directed within a year.
We're on a campaign to help you take better care and figure out WHY you're not taking your meds.
--If it's financial, ask your doctor and pharmacist about low-price generic alternatives, and check out pharmaceutical companies' patient-support programs.
--If side effects bother you, there may be other drugs or dose adjustments that eliminate the problems. Ask your doc about options.
--Forgetful? Put meds in containers divided by days of the week and times of the day. Ask family and friends for assistance. Download an app with text reminders or alarms.
More than 125,000 people in North American die every year because they didn't follow their medication regimen, and even more are hospitalized. Let's bring those numbers down to ZERO.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.RealAge.com.