Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

New research into patient noncompliancewith lifesaving drugs may pave theway for pharmacists to take broadercounseling responsibilities.

One study, conducted by researchersat the Denver Veterans Affairs MedicalCenter, found that 1 in 8 heart attackpatients stop taking lifesaving cardiacdrugs within 30 days of being dischargedfrom the hospital. The researchers, whotracked prescription drug complianceamong 1521 heart patients, found thatthose who stopped taking their medicationswere 3 times more likely to diewithin a year.

Several other noncompliance studiesreported in the Archives of InternalMedicine (September 25, 2006) reachedequally disturbing conclusions. Researcherswho tracked the records of>11,000 patients with diabetes found thatthose who failed to take their prescribeddrugs were at a significantly higher risk ofhospitalization and death.

The researchers acknowledge that thecost of medication played a role inpatients' deciding to stop taking drugs,but they stress that a major factorresponsible for noncompliance is the failureof physicians to inform patients ofside effects or the importance of maintaininga consistent regimen.

In one study, the researchers at theUniversity of California at Los Angelesfound that 2 of every 3 physicians fail todiscuss side effects when prescribingmedicines, >40% neglect to provide informationon dosage or timing, and 13% donot explain the purpose of the medication.