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October 9, 2022

2022 Q3 Rx Newsletter: Medication adherence programs

According to the WHO, 50% of patients with chronic illness do not take medications as prescribed.1

In the current healthcare landscape of the United States, there are enormous barriers to achieving consistent positive outcomes for patients. One of the simplest ways to achieve positive outcomes is medication adherence.

Adherence vs. New Therapeutics

In their 2003 report, the World Health Organization (WHO) quoted Haynes et al stating “increasing … adherence … may have a far great impact … than any improvement in specific medical treatments.”1

When the question of improving patient outcomes for any disease is discussed, the first response is typically centered around a need for new and improved therapeutics. Unfortunately, the proverbial low hanging fruit is often forgotten. Patients are often failing to adhere to their prescribed medication regiments. The immediate reaction from some is to blame patients, assuming medication nonadherence must be lack of personal reasonability. While this black and white perspective may simplify the conversation, it overlooks the realities of medication adherence and the relationship between employers and patients in modern healthcare.

Medication nonadherence arises from a variety of factors which can be loosely categorized as patient-related factors, physician-related factors, and health system related factors.

  • Patient-related factors range from a lack of understanding of their illness, mental illness, lack of family support system, to suboptimal medical literacy.2
  • Physician-related factors range from the utilization of overly complex drug regiments, failing to explain the medication, to inadequacy considering the financial burden to the patient.2
  • Health System-related factors range from prohibitive drug costs, lack of primary care access, to clinicians not having adequate time to dedicate to individual patients.2

Employer Intervention and Impact

While physician related factors are mostly out of the control of employers, patient and health system factors are areas where employers can make enormous strides. Employer sponsored interventions such as medication adherence programs either offered through health insurers, PBMs, or ancillary vendors can have real tangible impacts on patient adherence.

Health system related factors is likely where employers can have the most impact. With the majority of Americans receiving their prescription drug coverage through their employer, affordability of most drugs falls to employers. By ensuring access to affordable drugs, broad pharmacy networks, and patient medical literacy programs employers can do what is best for the health of their employees and their families, but also control medical trend and spend.

Contact us to learn more about how your business can better the health of your employees through employer sponsored medication adherence programs at https://mmaeast.com/contact/






  1. Sabaté E, ed. Adherence to Long-Term Therapies: Evidence for Action. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2003.
  2. “Medication Adherence: WHO Cares?” Brown, M.D. & Bussell, M.D., accessed September 7th, 2022, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3068890/#R3