Adherence to Prescription Medications

Dr. Alan Low, BSC (Pharm), PharmD, ACPR, FCSHP, CCD, RPh, Pharmacist, Vancouver , BC discusses the importance of adherence when taking prescription medications.

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Dr. Alan Low, BSC (Pharm), PharmD, ACPR, FCSHP, CCD, RPh, Pharmacist, Vancouver , BC discusses the importance of adherence when taking prescription medications.
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Alan Low, BSC (Pharm), PharmD, ACPR, FCSHP, CCD, RPh, Pharmacist, Vancouver , BC

Duration: 2 minutes, 22 seconds

I think everybody needs to know about adherence. What adherence is, is how somebody takes medication.

Are you taking it regularly? Are you taking it properly? There’s medications that are taken, but if you’re not sticking with what you’re instructed to do, such as, let’s say, taking on an empty stomach, or has to be taken with water only, not coffee, not juice, not anything else – that’s part of what adherence is.

This is different from persistence. Persistence means you’re taking it, but if it’s not properly taken, you might as well not even be taking it. Drugs like bisphosphonates, they are a drug that binds to pretty well everything. That’s why you need to take it only with plain water. Even mineral water becomes a problem because it will bind to the minerals within mineral water.

It just illustrates to you how important adherence is, and people don’t recognize that. Sometimes even your doctor and caregiver don’t recognize how important it is to take a drug regularly and properly. It’s not just that it’s taken, but it’s taken how it’s prescribed, and taken with all the other instructions of how it’s to be taken.

Most people think they can take medications on a regular basis, and when they’re asked by their doctor, they’ll always answer, “Yes, I’m taking my medications.” Sometimes the doctors prompt you in the wrong way. They might say, “You’re taking your medications, aren’t you?”

The thing is, you do have to respond accordingly, and do it as accurately as you can tell your doctor. That way, they can make a consideration whether you might need another kind of medication, another option, another version of it that might be easier for you to take.

Studies actually tell us that 20 to 30 percent of people actually don’t even fill their medication prescriptions. On top of that, up to half of them stop taking their medications properly within a year. That means 50 percent of the people out there who are actually getting medications aren’t actually even taking them properly, and not getting the full effect from their drugs.

It is very important to understand what your options are for taking medications. Medications aren’t only available as oral. You’ll find that medications can be injectable. There are patches and many other ways to take medications.

If we use osteoporosis as an example, you can take pills once a day, once a week, once a month. There’s also a subcutaneous injection, which is actually once every six months. There’s an IV infusion that’s once a year. All of these options are available to you.

If you speak with your doctor, they can speak with you about what your risks and benefits are, and what your preferences are to find the best medication for you.

Presenter: Dr. Alan Low, Pharmacist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Pharmacist

Medications and the Importance of Adherence ( 6 participated.)

How important do you think it is to take your medications as prescribed?


Up to 60% of patients with chronic conditions are poorly compliant with thier medications


20-30% of prescriptions are never filled by patients


Only 50% of patients ever take enough medication to achieve an optimal therapeutic effect


The patient population most complaint with their medications are 70 years and older

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.