Reports From the Field: Drug cost a barrier to prescription compliance

Adults with disabilities do not take their medicine as prescribed because they cannot afford to, and more than half report resulting health problems, a national study has shown.1

Medication affordability is a real problem for people with chronic illnesses or disabilities, regardless of age, the researchers conclude.

"About 63% of the respondents did not receive Medicare and would not be helped by any of the competing congressional proposals to create a prescription drug benefit," says Jae Kennedy, PhD, assistant professor of Health Policy and Administration at Washington State University in Spokane, and principal investigator.

The researchers used data from the 1994 and 1995 National Health Interview Surveys to estimate national rates of prescription noncompliance and resulting health problems.

The problem may be even more severe since the surveys used in the analysis are somewhat dated, Kennedy adds.

"Drug costs have skyrocketed in this period since the data were collected, potentially threatening the health and economic security of many more people with and without disabilities," he says.


1. Kennedy J, Erb C. Prescription noncompliance due to cost among adults with disabilities in the United States. Am J Pub Health 2002; 92(7):1,120-1,124. t