Another day, another study on the habits of patients. This new study was done by multiple authors (Aaron Kessleheim, chief author) based at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA. It seems to work backwards to most studies regarding medication adherence… I’ll explain further. But first you have to understand a couple of pieces of the medication terminology. Medication Adherence has to do with a patient’s commitment to take his or her prescriptions consistently as prescribed by their doctor, we’ve become very familiar with that concept over the past year. Here are some new definitions:

  • Bioequivalent  drugs = Generics
  • Incomplete persistence = taking longer than 5 days to refill a prescription
  • Concordant = pill COLORS and SHAPES matching the 2 prior refills

The study has to do with how the color and shape of the generic pills compare to the original medications.  And if they don’t patients will be confused, the authors say, and this will result in a serious lack of medication adherence.
The authors made concluding statements in a sort of double negative way.  Typically these studies attempt to make a statement about what it takes to improve adherence. This study is sort of groaning about pills not being the correct color and shape so that patients wont get confused.  I believe that this should not be the counterpart of adults playing preschool puzzle games.

Personally, I get my prescriptions at a large national pharmacy change. I buy generics whenever possible, so I purchase my meds at a lower price. Every month I get the same meds in differing colors, sometimes in a bottle, sometimes in bubble packs, sometimes in the bottle it was delivered in, sometimes in new shapes and sizes. They’re always different because the purchasing folk at the national office of my pharmacy wheel and deal for the very best prices, both for them and for its customers. I just want to know that it really is the equivalent of the original drug. I believe that’s what the pharmacy is delivering to me.

Maybe this would be helpful: instead of depending on the shapes and colors, line up your medications by the time of day. Start with your morning meds, then any mid-day medications and then the evening’s drugs. IF you are taking a medication more than once a day then get an additional bottle and put some of your monthly allotment into that new bottle (just save last months bottle when you get a refill). When you take a med (at the right time of day) turn it over so that you know that you’ve taken that days dose. This doesn’t have to be confusing.
None of these methods actually make you remember WHEN to take your meds. And prescribed meds don’t do any good unless you take them at the appropriate time and in the prescribed doses.

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