Keeping on Track with Your Medications The $9 Billion Dollar Problem

Dec 9, 2014

By Barret Procyshyn

Do you have trouble remembering to take your medications? A few weeks ago, after receiving antibiotics for a cold, I realized how difficult it can be to take only one medication correctly and on time. I even found it to be a little annoying, which got me thinking; how many people take their medications properly? This means taking your medications in the proper way, at the proper time. Here is a few numbers that may shock you. Only about 60% of Canadians who have chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease take their medication properly. It is estimated Canadians who do not take their medications appropriately are costing our health care systems between $7-9 billion per year. The most impactful statistic shows there are up to 125 000 deaths in Canada every year due to us not taking our medications properly.

If you or a loved one are having trouble taking your medications on time or correctly there are some options available to provide assistance. Some people may choose to place their medication in their own plastic dosette containers. While this is a good option for many, and you can pick up a free plastic dosette at your clinic pharmacy, there can be some disadvantages. These containers can get mixed up and you have to load the medication yourself, which can be confusing. There is also no label on these dosettes, so if you had a health emergency, hospital staff would not be able to identify your medication.

Compliance packaging or bubble packing your medications may be a great start to getting on track with your medications. Contrary to popular belief, bubble packs do not mean you are getting old and you do not have to have Alzheimers, dementia or a disability to need them. They can be a great tool to help take medications properly and on time.

If bubble packs are too bulky for your liking, strip packaging or Pac Med Strips are a fantastic option. Your medication comes if prefilled disposable strips which can be folded, rolled up and conveniently taken with you on the go. This makes them perfect for travelers or for people who do not want to take multiple prescription vials with them. The Pac Med strips also have your name and medication information right on the strips.

Aside from the benefits of having your medication organized for you there are other benefits to bubble packs or strip packaging. You can take either one into your doctor's appointment so there is no confusion what medications you are currently taking. Also, there is less chance for medication errors as there will not be multiple vials laying around the house. Thirdly, any medication changes can be made instantly, so patients and their families do not have to be concerned about taking the wrong medication or an incorrect dose.If home care is going to be involved with providing assistance in providing medications, bubble packs or strip packaging is a necessity.

Even more difficult than pills; patches, inhalers and diabetic insulin can be quite complicated. A pharmacist can spend time teaching patients and their families how new medications work. A great option for diabetics is prefilled insulin. With prefilled insulin there is no changing needles, drawing up insulin, or changing insulin cartridges. The needles are prefilled and ready to use. If you have a hard time using insulin pen needles or have a loved one who you think might benefit from prefilled insulin please inquire with your clinic pharmacist.

Taking or using medications properly can be an issue for anyone, of any age. While pills are usually simple, never leave the pharmacy without understanding your medication and the optimal time of day to take your medication. Also, make sure your new prescription or over the counter product does not impact your alertness or have interactions with your other medications. If you are ever concerned about your medication and want a pharmacists opinion on the medications you are taking or need help organizing your medication routine; we are your medication experts and are there to help.


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