Medication Adherence Support: Prescriptions Patients Stop Prematurely

Medication adherence support is a discipline in which patients receive assistance with taking medication, as directed by a physician. The support can come from the prescriber’s office, the pharmacy, pharmacy packaging solutions, or all three.

However, some prescriptions — particularly ones that are commonly discontinued prematurely — naturally require a higher level of adherence support than others. Below, we look at four classes of medication that fall into this category, explain why they are commonly discontinued, and discuss how the discontinuance can adversely affect health outcomes.

  1. Antipsychotics

For a condition such as schizophrenia, antipsychotics such as Seroquel and Zyprexa can be magic bullets that restore mental order. The drug can work so well, in fact, that the patient begins to feel “normal” and decides that the medication isn’t necessary anymore.

Unfortunately, after discontinuing the drug, it can become quickly apparent that the medication is necessary. If a patient relapses, a short hospital stay to restabilize him or her on the medication is often in order. At the very least, it’s a situation that interrupts the person’s life in a major way and results in medical costs that medication adherence support can help prevent.

  1. Antibiotics

When a person has the flu, the doctor is likely to prescribe Tamiflu or an older generation antibiotic, such as Augmentin. These medications and other antibiotics are highly effective at fighting microbial carnage in the body that makes us feel like staying in bed all day. However, as with antipsychotics, many people stop taking antibiotics when they start to feel better, and not when all of the offending microbes are gone.

Not completing a full course of antibiotics can allow the weakened illness to regain strength, seem to redouble its miserable effects, and necessitate taking another round of medicine. When dealing with a potentially deadly illness such as the flu, this is a situation anyone should avoid.

  1. Antidepressants

Whereas antipsychotics and antibiotics are often discontinued because the patient starts to feel better, antidepressants are often stopped because the person doesn’t start to feel better — at least not as quickly as hoped. Different classes of antidepressants have different actions in the body, but doctors generally recommend taking them for at least a couple of weeks to get the full benefit.

Here, the typical outcome from non-adherence is fairly obvious: The depression doesn’t abate, which could be a life threatening situation depending on the severity of the illness. Because depression can cause a sense of listlessness and indifference in the first place, depressed patients are a population that stands to benefit from medication adherence support.

  1. Antiepileptics

Epilepsy is a disease of the central nervous system that causes some sufferers to have seizures. Because the seizures are difficult to predict and often occur without warning, epileptic patients often take a daily antiepileptic drug, such as Lyrica or its predecessor, Neurontin.

Because the drug works by slowing down electrical impulses in the brain that cause seizures, it’s generally taken on regular basis to prevent breakthrough seizures. When the drug works, and seizures are kept at bay, the patient can have a false sense of confidence about his or her condition, and stop taking the medication. Because epileptic seizures can be deadly, epileptics are a prime target for medication adherence support.


How Drug Package Can Help

The medications above are just a few of the many medicines that are commonly discontinued prematurely for one reason or another. Regardless of why a prescription is stopped too soon, failure to adequately treat the illness or recover from it is often the result. In addition to harming the patient, this scenario can also be responsible for unnecessary medical costs.

Drug Package can help your pharmacy perform medication adherence support for at-risk populations by providing custom or stock auxiliary labels, blister cards and much more. To inquire about our medication adherence solutions, please call us today at (800) 325-6137, or use our contact form. We look forward to hearing from you.