Medicine obviously can’t do much good if it
sits on a pharmacy shelf. Yet more than one-quarter of the acne patients
surveyed by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center researchers didn’t get medications
prescribed by their dermatologists.
the 143 acne patients who participated in the study, 27 percent failed to obtain
all of their medications, including both prescription drugs and
over-the-counter products. Those who were prescribed two medications had the
highest rate of primary non-adherence – not getting a medication or not using
it – at 40 percent, followed by those prescribed three or more medications (31
percent) and those prescribed just one (9 percent). There was no statistically
significant difference in non-adherence rates by age or gender in the three
is a pervasive problem in all of medicine, particularly when treating chronic
conditions such as acne,” said Steven R. Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., professor of
dermatology at Wake Forest Baptist and lead author of the study, published online
in the March issue of the American Medical Association journal JAMA
Dermatology. “A previous study reported a 10 percent primary non-adherence rate
for acne patients, so we were surprised that what we found was more than twice
study’s results also indicated that prescriptions for topical medications were
less likely to be filled than those for oral medications; over-the-counter
products were less likely to be obtained than prescription drugs; and paper
prescriptions were less likely to be filled than electronic ones. These findings,
however, were not statistically significant.
study showed that patients are more inclined to follow the treatment regimen
when only one medication is prescribed,” Feldman said. “Multiple agents are
typically required to address the multiple factors that cause acne, but
simplifying treatment regimens by prescribing products that contain two or more
active ingredients could prove effective in reducing non-adherence.”
study was not designed to determine acne patients’ reasons for not getting
their prescriptions filled but many of the participants offered unprompted explanations,
including cost, forgetfulness, having similar medication on hand, not agreeing
with the prescribed treatment and improvement of the skin condition. The researchers
suggested that future studies examine these factors to better understand
non-adherence to prescribed treatment.
co-authors of the study are William Huang, M.D., M.P.H., Kathryn I. Anderson,
B.S., and Emily Dothard, B.S., of Wake Forest Baptist.
Forest Baptist Center for Dermatology Research is supported by an unrestricted
educational grant from Galderma Laboratories, LP.