Moving the Needle: How Are We Doing with Patient Adherence to Drug Therapy?

The problem of non-adherence to medications, especially for chronic conditions, is widely recognized as one of the most confounding and intractable obstacles to improving patient outcomes and reducing healthcare costs.

  • According to the World HealthOrganization, medication adherence canhave a more direct impact on patientoutcomes than the treatment itself.1
  • Nearly $300 billion is lost in additionalavoidable medical spending eachyear when patients don’t take theirmedicines as prescribed.2


Another important, often unrecognized, aspect to non-adherence is that it may lead prescribers to doubt the efficacy of medicines when they don’t obtain the outcomes seen in clinical trials.

  • Nonadherence can account for up to 50 percent of treatment failures, approximately 125,000 deaths and up to 25 percent of hospitalizations each year in the United States.


Current methods of improving medication adherence for chronic health problems are mostly complex and have not yet been shown to be widely effective, making the full benefits of therapy difficult to demonstrate in realworld clinical practice. When all is said and done, a pharmaceutical company may spend twice as much getting the patient to the retail pharmacy counter as it spent on inventing and testing the drug to begin with. But then what happens?

  • As many as 30 percent of people don’t pick up their prescribed medications.
  • Among those who do pick up that first prescription, as many as 30 percent stop taking their medicine within 30 days.
  • Up to 60 percent stop taking their medicine within six months.6,7


Focus on interventions to address thisn problem has intensified in recent years, however, aided by advances in technology that have opened up new channels for reinforcing adherence behaviors. In addition, quality-ofcare models are forcing change, evolving to be more patient-centric and outcomes-focused, with improving adherence a top priority.


For our second annual Patient Influence Adherence Report, Syneos Health™ set out to understand the factors currently influencing patient adherence behaviors at the retail pharmacy level and compare this with prior years’ data to understand adherence trends over time.


Click Here to read the full report

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