Trending News Today: Lower Drug Costs May be the Key to Better Medication Adherence

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

Polypharmacy among older Americans poses serious risks but gets little attention compared with other drug epidemics, according to Kaiser Health News. Approximately 25% of patients aged 65 to 69 years take at least 5 prescription drugs, with some taking more than 20 to treat chronic diseases. Researchers have linked polypharmacy to unnecessary deaths and side effects such as dizziness, confusion, and falls, according to Kaiser. This problem is further complicated after hospitalization, when patients may be prescribed even more medications, according to the report.

During the last few days of open enrollment, consumers experienced some glitches when trying to sign up for Affordable Care Act plans, The New York Times reported. Specifically, in Illinois, individuals received a message saying they would be able to purchase a plan, but there were none available in the area, which was inaccurate, according to the Times. This issue started last week and happened in multiple states, but an official said it has been resolved and they will reach out to consumers. This Friday is the last day for enrollment, making the last few days crucial for sign ups.

Half or more of prescription drugs are not taken due to various issues that lead to non-adherence. Despite the high cost of many of the medications, patients do not remain adherent and technology developed to address this problem may not be enough, according to The New York Times. Reminder systems and increased patient education have not been highly effective thus far; however, reducing drug costs poses a significant solution to medication non-adherence, according to the article. A recent study showed that patients are more likely to fill prescriptions when their drugs are less expensive, although they are still likely to skip doses. However, the study found that many more individuals take their prescription drugs if there is no cost compared with when they have to pay, according to the article.