We have had various blog posts about the importance of medication adherence. The subject remains important as researchers find 20-30% of prescriptions are never filled and half of all people do not follow their drug instructions.  With a wide variety of factors contributing to patients not following through a treatment as directed, it can have a serious impact on one’s health and finances.

People have many reasons for medication non-adherence. Confusion can be a factor, whether in relation to multiple prescriptions or unclear doctor’s orders.  Other patients don’t take medicine to avoid side effects. Cost is an obvious factor for those unable to afford their prescriptions. Not following drug regimens can result in needless hospitalizations and emergency room visits, which can cost much more than the skipped medication. Research shows as much as $289 billion is spent on avoidable hospital trips annually for people who don’t follow their prescription regimens. It is estimated that as many people die from medication non-adherence as from strokes each year.

Some organizations have devised

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In a previous guest post, Alison Lawton of the Access Our Medicine Initiative wrote on the importance of affordable medications and AOM’s goal to reach 100,000 signatures for their Access Our Medicine Declaration. Having achieved their goal, they are now planning a worldwide Thunderclap of awareness.

When we launched the Access Our Medicine Initiative on World Health Day last year I didn’t know if anyone would respond.

We knew that the price of medicine was rising for life-changing medicines with devastating consequences for everyone, around the globe. We learned of people choosing between food and medicine, being pushed into poverty and even dying because they couldn’t afford medicine they needed.

But I also knew that for many people the issue of access to affordable medicine just isn’t top of mind until they or their loved ones become sick. By then its too late – who has energy to talk about ways to improve the system and make medicine affordable at the moment when the priority is on advocating health for themselves or their friends and family?

And yet, the response has been overwhelming. People

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A new study from the National Center for Health Statistics has found that 8% of Americans don’t take their medicines as prescribed because they cannot afford them.  Nearly 20% of prescriptions never get filled. Approximately 15% of respondents reported asking their doctors for a lower-cost alternative, and 2% admitted to having bought prescription drugs from another country.  With 82% of Americans being prescribed at least one prescription medication, the numbers can become alarming for anyone.

In previous blog posts we have discussed the lengths people will go to save money, such as spending less ongroceries or entertainment, relying more on credit cards, postponing paying other bills, or applying for government assistance.  Others took more dangerous measures, such as putting off a doctor’s visit, declining a test, delaying a procedure, or cutting dosages without first talking to a doctor or pharmacist.

No one should have to sacrifice their health due to a lack in finances. For those unable to afford their medications, NeedyMeds has an extensive database of

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Medicines can only work in patients who can take them. If we have medicines today to treat people and they can’t access them, then we have to make changes. That’s why we launched the Access Our Medicine Initiative.

The Access Our Medicine Initiative launched in April 2014 inviting people to sign an online declaration with a simple statement – that everyone should have access to affordable medicine. Since then, over 75,000 people from 160 countries and a diverse range of organizations representing more than 400 million people have signed the Declaration at www.accessourmedicine.com.

Why are so many people interested?

Even with the Affordable Care Act, over 30 million Americans will not be able to afford their medicine. People are making sacrifices for their medicine, or are risking their health by sacrificing their medicine. Nobody should have to choose between filling prescriptions and buying groceries.

As part of the Access Our Medicine Initiative, we want to support critical organizations such as NeedyMeds offering immediate support to those patients and families needing access to medicine. I’m grateful to have NeedyMeds’

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Past blogs have discussed various ways to save on medication costs – pharmaceutical patient assistance programs, drug discount coupons, drug discount card, etc. Let me tell you about another way you may be able to cut your medication costs.

At NeedyMeds we receive calls from people who can’t afford their medications. Most are taking just a few drugs, but a significant number are taking 10 or more drugs – sometimes 20 or more drugs. According to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report 82% of American adults take at least one medication and 29% take five or more medications.

Why are so many people taking so many medicines? In some cases the person has multiple diseases, all requiring their own medications. But sometimes not all the medicines are no longer needed. Here are a few reasons why this may occur:

Step Therapy

This is an approach used to treat many diseases. Let’s say your doctor discovers you have high blood pressure – hypertension. Your doctor would take a stepped approach to treatment. First, she would address lifestyle issues such as weight control, tobacco use, exercise, etc.

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