Medication misuse, noncompliance exceed $200 billion

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted July 1, 2013

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Health care costs caused by improper and unnecessary use of medicines exceeded $200 billion in 2012, according to a study released June 19 by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. The institute is part of IMS Health, a research firm that tracks and analyzes health care trends. (See correction)

The study examined six areas that contribute to unnecessary costs: medication noncompliance; delayed evidence-based treatment practice; misuse of antibiotics; medication errors; suboptimal use of generics; and mismanaged polypharmacy in older adults. Together, these areas lead to unnecessary utilization of health care resources involving an estimated 10 million hospital admissions, 78 million outpatient treatments, 246 million prescriptions and 4 million emergency department visits annually.

Patients not adhering to their doctors' medication guidance experienced complications that cost an estimated $105 billion in annual avoidable health care costs, the study found (link).

However, study authors said the growing use of analytics and collaboration among physicians, pharmacists and patients appears to be advancing the understanding and effectiveness of noncompliance intervention programs. In addition, medication adherence among large populations of patients with hypertension, hyperlipidemia and diabetes has improved 3% to 4% since 2009. The proportion of patients experiencing a cold or the flu who inappropriately received antibiotic prescriptions has fallen from 20% to 6% since 2007.

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An earlier headline understated the amount lost due to medication misuse and noncompliance. American Medical News regrets the error.

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