Non-adherence to medicines as high as 50 per cent

AS many as half of patients don’t take medicines as prescribed, according to a new report.

An estimated 30 to 50 per cent of patients fail to adhere to prescriptions, which can render treatments ineffective and may even cause harm in some cases.

Wasted medicines are also thought to cost the NHS in England around £300 million a year, in addition to the knock-on costs of avoidable illness, further treatment and hospital admissions.

The figures were published in a summary of a meeting held by the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Faculty of Pharmaceutical medicine.

Meeting chair Sir Alasdair Breckenridge said: "The fact that only one third to one half of patients take their medicines as prescribed should be a major wake up call to the healthcare profession. We need to determine why this is the case and develop better ways to help people take the medicines they are offered."

The report called for a co-ordinated response from both healthcare professionals and patients to tackle the issue.

It suggests a key strategy could involve improving communication between healthcare professionals and patients, increasing patient participation in treatment decisions, and developing a "deeper understanding of their experiences and expectations."

The report cited recent analysis by University College London of 94 studies that suggested a patient’s decision to take a medicine is often a balance between their perceptions of personal need for the medicine, and concerns about potential adverse consequences of taking it.

New technologies could also improve adherence, the meeting found, including text reminders, micro-chipped automated pill boxes and apps.

Read the full report here

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