The Issue

According to a new national poll by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Public Opinion Strategies, 40 percent of American adults suffer from some form of chronic illness, ranging from diabetes and cancer to heart disease and high blood pressure.  In recent years, however, lack of regular adherence to medications has resulted in higher health care costs and an increase in the prevalence of chronic conditions that directly impact patient health. As many as two out of three medication-related U.S. hospital admissions[1] and 125,000 deaths a year are a direct result of poor medication adherence[2].

Medication adherence means that patients are taking their medications at the times, dosages, frequencies, and direction prescribed. Failure to adhere results in reduced effectiveness of prescribed treatments which leads to increased medical costs and poor health outcomes for patients. More than one in five new prescriptions go unfilled[3], and approximately two-thirds of patients do not adhere to their prescription medications.[4]

Stated simply, there are serious health consequences from not taking medication as prescribed. It can allow chronic diseases to progress which leads to complications, decreased overall well-being or worse. In fact, nine out of ten patients who adhere to their prescription medications describe their health as “good” or “excellent,” while two thirds of patients with poor adherence report the same.[4]

The issue is significant and time-sensitive, and will continue to gain importance as health care costs and the number of Americans with chronic illnesses increase. Working together, members of the partnership will drive a new conversation on how to best address non-adherence head on.


[1] Osterberg L, Blaschke T, “Adherence to Medication,” New Engl. J. Med., 2005;353(5):487-497.

[2] McCarthy R, “The price you pay for the drug not taken.” Bus Health. 1998;16:27-28,30,32-33.

[3] Fischer MA, Choudhry NK, et al. “Trouble Getting Started: Predictors of Primary Medication Nonadherence.” Am. J. of Med., 2011 November; 124(11): 1081.e9 – 1081.e22; See also, Fischer MA, Stedman MR, Lii J, et al. “Primary Medication Non-Adherence: Analysis of 195,930 Electronic Prescriptions.” J. Gen. Intern. Med., 2010 April; 25(4): 284–290.

[4] Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. “Medication Adherence: A survey of adults nationwide.” Apr 2013.