Guest Blog: The AUHSOP Script Your Future team write how your local pharmacist can help you stay on track with your meds

Did you know that nearly three out of four Americans don’t take their medications as directed? Or that one out of three Americans never even fill their prescriptions in the first place?  How about that 125,000 people die every year due to non-adherence with their prescription medications?

Script Your Future (SYF) is a national campaign that focuses on addressing this important issue by informing the public about the important role medication adherence plays in taking control of one’s health.

The objective is all about impacting medication adherence in the United States. Pharmacy schools across the country participate in the Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge to spread the message and hopefully contribute to this objective.

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The Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy (AUHSOP) has embraced the SYF challenge by creating innovative strategies to help improve medication adherence in Alabama. Our team has reached out to hundreds of persons in the Auburn, Alabama community.  We’re focused on helping our community members take charge of their health by 1) learning the importance of taking their medications as prescribed and 2) receiving tips on how to be more adherent. Now, we would love to share this information with you too!

Medication adherence is an important issue both for you as a patient and for our country overall. As a patient, taking your medications as prescribed can help you live a longer and fuller life. Patients who do not take their medications as prescribed contribute to one in three medicine-related hospitalizations.  

Being non-adherent to your medications can also lead to preventable disease progression, disease complications, a lower quality of life, and even premature death. All of these issues cost the country nearly $300 billion each year in extra expenses for doctor visits, emergency room visits, hospital admissions, and additional medicine.

Therefore, when you take your medications as prescribed you are helping yourself stay healthy and are also decreasing your risk of disease complications or progression; in addition, you are also helping save health care costs for our country.

Despite all of this, three out of four people still do not take their medicine as prescribed. There are many reasons why people don’t take their meds, such as

  • not understanding how the medicine works
  • forgetting to take  medications
  • can’t afford the prescription costs
  • worrying about negative side affects

These are valid concerns and we know that being completely adherent can be very difficult. Talking to your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider to make sure you understand your medical conditions and how to take your medicine can help.

Here are some questions to ask your doctor or pharmacist to help get the conversation started:

  • What’s my medicine called and what does it do?
  • How and when should I take it? And for how long?
  • What if I miss a dose?
  • What side effects am I likely to have?
  • Is it safe to take it with other medicines or vitamins?
  • Can I stop taking it if I feel better?

We’ve come up with some suggestions on ways to help you decide to take your medicine correctly in order to help you live a longer and healthier life.

  1. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about anything that worries you about taking your medicine. Tell him or her if a side effect is bothering you and ask what can be done to make the problem better. He or she might be able to switch you to a different medicine or adjust the timing of your dose.
  2. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if paying for your medicine is a problem. He or she may be able to prescribe you a generic medication or find a coupon card for you to use. You can also check to see if you qualify for drug assistance programs.

  1. Use a pill box. These are available at most drug stores and are easy to use. They have spots for each day of the week to help you stay on track.
  2. Set a routine for every day and keep your medicines where you will see them. If you can connect taking your medicine with a regular activity you do every day, it will be easier to remember. For example, if your medicine needs to be taken with food, place the bottle in a dry area of your kitchen where you will see it at meal times. Or if your medicine needs to be taken at bedtime, put it on or in your nightstand so that you can access it easily before falling asleep.
  3. Finally, keep a written or electronic schedule or record. Medisafe, an app for smartphones, is a great example that can help track your medication taking and also remind you when it’s time for your next dose.

Written By: Caitlin Sullivan, PharmD Candidate 2018 at the Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy