Drug non-compliance rates rise as economic toll worsens in U.S.
WASHINGTON A healthcare research group reports that the proportion of children and working-age Americans who went without a prescription drug because of cost concerns jumped to one in seven in 2007.
That marks a significant rise in non-compliance rates from 2003, when the ratio of American children and workers who said they were deterred by cost concerns from taking one or more medicines was one in 10.
“Rising prescription drug costs and less generous drug coverage likely contributed to the growth in non-elderly Americans who went without a prescribed medication because of cost concerns — from 10.3% in 2003 to 13.9% in 2007,” noted the Center for Studying Health System Change [HSC] in a report released Jan. 22. The report is based on findings from HSC’s 2007 Health Tracking Household Survey, a nationally representative survey containing information on 10,400 working-age adults (ages 19-64) and 2,600 children.
The most vulnerable groups — those with low incomes, chronic conditions and the uninsured — continue to face the greatest unmet prescription drug needs, the study found. Uninsured, working-age Americans saw the biggest jump in unmet prescription drug needs between 2003 and 2007, with the proportion rising from 26 percent to almost 35%, researchers noted.
Even patients covered by Medicaid are falling off the prescription coverage screen, according to the report. Nearly one in four working-age adults with Medicaid or other state insurance reported difficulties affording prescription drugs, while nearly three in 10 working-age Medicare beneficiaries reported such problems.
“At the same time, a growing proportion [10.7%] of working-age Americans with employer-sponsored insurance reported going without prescription medications in 2007, up from with 8.7% in 2003,” HSC reported.
“The number of Americans who cannot afford prescription medications is likely to grow as the economy continues to decline and the ranks of the uninsured grow,” said Laurie Felland, an HSC senior health researcher and coauthor of the study with HSC senior health researcher Jim Reschovsky. HSC is a nonpartisan health policy research organization funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded the survey and the study.
The study’s findings are detailed in a new HSC tracking report — titled More Nonelderly Americans Face Problems Affording Prescription Drug. Among its other findings:
· More than 36 million people aged 19 to 64 and children went without prescription drugs because of cost concerns in 2007, an increase of 11.7 million people from 2003.
· Unmet prescription drug needs among working-age adults increased from 13.8% to 17.8% between 2003 and 2007 — a 29% increase. “Because children typically are in better health and require fewer medications than adults, they have fewer prescription drug access problems,” researchers noted. “Nevertheless, unmet prescription drug needs between 2003 and 2007 grew even faster among children, from 3.1% to 5% — affecting 3.9 million children in 2007.”
· More than one in four working-age adults with a chronic condition reported unmet prescription drug needs in 2007, compared with 12.9 percent of people without a chronic condition.
· Uninsured working-age adults with one or more chronic conditions had the worst access across groups, with almost two-thirds reporting unmet prescription drug needs.
· Low-income families with income less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or $41,300 for a family of four in 2007, reported greater difficulty affording prescription drugs than higher-income people. In 2007, almost three in 10 low-income, working-age adults reported prescription drug access problems, compared with 13.5% of higher-income, working-age adults.
· More than four in 10 low-income people with chronic conditions reported unmet prescription drug needs in 2007, compared with 8.9% of higher-income people without chronic conditions.
Harris Poll: More consumers buying generics, drugs at Wal-Mart-like stores
ROCHESTER, N.Y. How and where people by prescription drugs and what drugs they buy have changed substantially over the past two years, according to the Harris Poll.
The poll, released Monday, found that between October 2006 and December 2008, the proportion of adults who would choose generic drugs over branded drugs increased from 68% to 81%, and the number who would choose branded drugs decreased from 32% to 19%.
Mass merchandisers have also gotten more customers at their pharmacies. Purchases of drugs at stores like Wal-Mart and Target increased from 13% to 17%, while purchases through mail-order and online pharmacies increased from 11% to 15%. Meanwhile, retail pharmacy chains have seen a decrease, from 39% to 33%, while purchases at independent pharmacies have dropped from 12% to 8%.
The poll was based on an online survey of 2,388 adults nationwide conducted between Dec. 9 and 15. Results were weighted for factors such as age, sex, household income, education, race and ethnicity.
Coster joins independent Rx team to spearhead government affairs, policy
ALEXANDRIA, Va. Retail pharmacy and policy veteran John Coster has joined the National Community Pharmacists Association as SVP government affairs, succeeding Charlie Sewell. His appointment to the independent pharmacy organization is effective immediately.
Coster, a licensed pharmacist and vocal advocate for the profession, is well known to pharmacy stakeholders and to policymaking staffs on Capitol Hill. He last served as VP federal affairs and public policy for Rite Aid Corp., and prior to that was the high-profile VP policy and programs for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.
Coster has also worked for former Senator David Pryor, D-Ark., and on the staff of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging and within the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment. He also served on the Task Force on Health Care Reform during the Clinton Administration.
NCPA EVP and CEO Bruce Roberts praised Coster as a well-respected expert in pharmacy and public policy. “As a pharmacist himself, with extensive legislative and policy experience, John will be an outstanding addition to the NCPA team. We are pleased that a pharmacist will be a strong voice for community pharmacy on Capitol Hill and in the regulatory agencies,” said Roberts.
Added NCPA president Holly Henry, “I look forward to having John Coster represent community pharmacy for NCPA in Washington, D.C. John’s expertise will give community pharmacy the competitive advantage it needs to be part of the overall health care dialogue.”
Coster, who earned a degree in pharmacy from St. John’s University in New York, and his Masters and Ph.D. in Policy Sciences with a concentration in health from the University of Maryland Graduate School, remains a licensed pharmacist in New York, Maryland and Virginia.