To Save on Drug Costs, Consumers Cut Corners

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media , August 24, 2010

Consumers have been economizing on healthcare costs in ways that could be dangerous to their health, including cutting back on their medications, according to a Consumer Reports National Research Center health prescription drug poll released Tuesday.

In the past year, 39% of more than 1,100 individuals interviewed said that they took some action save money. Among those surveyed, 27% who take medication said they failed to comply with their prescriptions, while 38% of those younger than 65 without drug coverage skipped filling prescriptions altogether.

The poll found that nearly half (45%) of Americans take at least one prescription drug on a regular basis, and on average, they routinely take four medications.

More than two-thirds (69%) of those taking prescription drugs said pharmaceutical manufacturers have too much influence on physicians' prescribing decisions, and half said that physicians are too eager to prescribe a drug when various non-drug options are available for managing a condition.

Another 51% said they thought that physicians did not consider a patient's ability to pay when prescribing a drug, nearly half (47%) said they thought gifts from pharmaceutical companies influenced physicians' choices of drugs for their patients, and 41% said they thought physicians tended to prescribe newer, more expensive drugs.

The advertising budgets of pharmaceutical companies are  having an impact on consumers, the survey noted: 20% of consumers who take a prescription drug have asked their physicians for a drug they saw advertised, with a majority of those physicians (59%) agreeing to prescribe the medication.

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