Wasted Prescriptions: A Tough Pill to Swallow

AmeriHealth District of Columbia Explains How Behavior Can Make Illnesses Worse

12/11/2013, 2 p.m.
Take your medication as your doctor tells you to, because every day matters.

Orange bottles and white pills. Maybe they’re two-color capsules. Maybe they are shaped like circles or ovals. They might have powder or pellets in them. Maybe your medication isn’t a pill at all. It could be a needle. In whatever form they are prescribed, we all know about prescription medicines and doctors’ orders to take them. Despite doctors’ instructions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states 20 percent to 30 percent of prescriptions are never filled. About 50 percent of people who do get their medicines stop taking them after 6 months. Are you in either of these groups?

Not taking your medicine as prescribed is called “medication non-adherence.” Doing this can have a bad impact on your long-term health. It can make you sicker. It can even land you in the hospital.

Whether you are asked to take 1 medicine or 11, it is understandable that you may not want to. Drugs can be expensive, and sometimes we just forget to take them. But we have to do better. Following the doctor’s advice can save time, money and energy. One trip to an emergency room can take up a whole day or longer for you and your family. Plus, it can cost you in gas money and cause you stress.

So, if you are missing your medicines for any reason, talk to your doctor. Tell him or her how you are feeling. Ask questions. If you can’t afford your medications or have trouble remembering to take them, ask for help. There might be programs that can help you with reminders and transportation. Take the time to do this today. Your life depends on it.