An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?

This saying, made famous by Benjamin Franklin, is as true today as it was in the 1700’s. Preventative care and early treatment can impact the outcome of most diseases.

  • Mammograms and prostate screening are effective tools against cancer
  • Sunscreens and limiting outdoor exposure to direct sunlight are effective methods to lower the risk for skin cancers

The proper use of medication can also prevent conditions from forming or stop existing conditions from worsening. A potential growing gap is forming between what the doctor orders and what the patient may or may not be taking. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) one third to more than one half of all hospital admissions are related to medications. These admissions account for many billions of dollars in healthcare costs each year. The reasons for why a person does not take a medicine ordered by the doctor may be as varied and the people themselves. If more than one doctor is writing prescriptions the chances for adverse drug interactions increases significantly.

The American Medical News placed the spotlight on one possible reason, the impact of medication costs. A conversation between a doctor and patient, which probably takes place too often, was highlighted by the article.

  • “Are you taking the medication?” The doctor asked his patient
  • “Not all the time,” the woman sheepishly answered
  • “How often are you taking it?” he asked. “Once a week?” “Every other day?”
  • “Well, less than that,” she said
  • “You’re not really taking it at all,” the doctor said
  • “Well, that’s right,” the woman answered
  • “Did you fill the prescription?”
  • “No,” she said. “It was going to be $180 a month because it wasn’t covered. And I can’t afford that.”

Some healthcare providers may not consider the cost of a drug when ordering it and the patient may be reluctant to bring up the subject. According to a report from a consulting firm IMS Health, Americans spent more than $307 billion for prescription medications last year.

  • Do drug costs create a barrier for people?
  • But what can be done about it?
  •  Can healthcare providers help?
  • Are there programs to help pay for these expensive medicines?
  • How does Medicare help to pay for drugs?
  • What can patients do?