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NEHI Study Estimates Cost of Medication Non-Compliance

By August 19, 2009November 2nd, 2009Commentary

The New England HealthCare Institute has released a report projecting the current costs of patients’ failures to follow medication regimens.  Basing its conclusion upon earlier research which used a model to estimate these costs,  NEHI says we are spending $290 billion on medical care which could be avoided with full adherence to therapy.  (NEHI Article)   While there is no question that medication therapy compliance is a serious problem, the method used to estimate these costs is not particularly rigorous and uses questionable assumptions.  The very large number which results is almost certainly a significant overstatement of the avoidable costs. 

Notwithstanding the questionable methodology, the report does an excellent job of setting out a number of approaches to improve medication adherence.  In addition to adherence, as the report recognizes, there is also a need to manage medication therapy better.  Often patients are under or over-dosed, put on medications they don’t need, not put on ones they do need and left on drugs which are giving them significant side effects.  Poor medication therapy management is a root cause of poor medication adherence and should be addressed first in identifying adherence issues.

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