Community Data

Adherence to Medication

Quick Facts :

  • Every year in the United States, there are about 3.8 billion prescriptions written.
  • About 20% of written prescriptions are never filled.
  • A nationwide survey of about 1,000 adults found that 14% of adults had taken a prescribed medication in a smaller dose because of the cost, and that 16% of adults had taken a prescribed medication less frequently to save money.

What does adherence to medication mean?

Chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, or lung diseases will generally require prescription medication. Adherence to medication is when patients take prescribed medication as prescribed by the doctor. When patients are non-adherent to their medications that means that they are not taking prescribed medication, taking the wrong dose, taking medicine at the wrong time, skipping doses, or not even filling medication. 


It is estimated that about 40-50% of patients prescribed medication are non-adherent to their medication. This causes an estimated $100 billion in medical costs and about 125,000 deaths per year. 


Some barriers patients may face in adhering to medication plans is cost of medical care and prescriptions, poor understanding of instructions from doctor, fear of side effects, or lack of motivation to stay on a medication schedule.

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