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Third of patients never take medicine for a long-term condition, say researchers

Research presented at the 2018 International Pharmaceutical Federation Congress shows that almost a third of patients with a long-term condition never initiate a newly prescribed medicine.

Woman with diabetes injecting insulin


Some 20–30% of patients with hypertension, and around 30% of those with hyperlipiademia and/or diabetes do not initiate their new prescription

As many as one in three patients with a long-term health condition never initiate a newly prescribed medication, data presented at the International Pharmaceutical Federation Congress on 4 September 2018 show.

The e-prescribing data showed that 20–30% of all patients, and around 30% of those with hypertension, hyperlipiademia and/or diabetes, never initiate their new prescription, said Bernard Vrijens, chief executive officer of AARDEX Group and invited professor of biostatistics at The University of Liége, Belgium.

Vrijens said that medicines adherence can be broken down into three phases: initiation, implementation and persistence. The second stage is the trickiest to address, with 15% of patients not implementing a treatment plan as prescribed. This can lead to treatment failure and potentially disease progression, and/or an acute event requiring more complex treatments.

Vrijens said the solution was using prescription and refill databases in combination with electronic monitoring to measure and monitor adherence: “It’s management, not forcing people to swallow pills.”

As more effective therapies with narrow therapeutic indices continue to be developed, medication adherence will become ever more important, emphasised Vrijens: "We cannot do precision medicine without addressing medication adherence."

The 2018 FIP congress in Glasgow, Scotland, brings together pharmacy practitioners and pharmaceutical scientists from around the world to consider ways of extending the role of pharmacists so that they play a full part in ensuring patients, and health systems, achieve full benefit from the medicines people take.

The theme of the 78th FIP World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences is ‘Pharmacy: Transforming outcomes!’.

This is the first time that the FIP World Congress has been held in the UK for nearly 40 years. The last time was in 1979, making this a truly unique learning opportunity for pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists in Great Britain.

UK healthcare company RB is Gold Sponsor of this year’s congress.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20205405

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