As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shine a spotlight on various health concerns, a recent survey which shows one in four Canadians report not taking their medication properly.
The national survey conducted in January by Pharmasave indicates that 26 per cent of the more than 10,000 respondents admit to having taken medication differently than prescribed or stopping to take it without consulting a medical professional.
In response to the survey results, the Canadian drugstore retailer has now launched a public education campaign in order to raise awareness of the dangers of not taking medication as directed.
“Some of the primary reasons for this were the side effects of the medication, medications were potentially unaffordable and in some cases, once people started feeling better after beginning their medication, they didn’t really see the need to continue to take the medication any longer,” explained Jeff Grant, the regional pharmacy manager for Pharmasave West Region.
Grant calls the results concerning, since not taking medication as prescribed can be dangerous and can lead to further health complications, especially during a pandemic when the country’s healthcare system is already burdened.
“We’ve seen those with chronic conditions, like high-blood pressure, cholesterol, lung conditions like asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) are at a higher risk if they are to contract COVID-19.”
Even before COVID-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the rise of chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease, chronic respiratory diseases and cancer as a “slow motion” disaster leading to about 70 per cent of deaths globally.
Vishal Sukhadiya, pharmacist and owner of a Medicine Shoppe location in Lethbridge, says medical adherence is certainly an ongoing problem for them, noting diabetes is of particular concern.
“Generally what we see is, the first few months of diagnosis of diabetes (patients) are pretty good, they take their medication regularly,” Sukhadiya said.
“Then after a few years, everything goes downhill, they don’t take medications, they don’t take care of their diet and then all of a sudden they develop complications,” he added.
Sukhadiya added when it comes to Albertans not taking their medication because it is not covered by their drug plan, The Non-Group Coverage program is an option which can provide access to an economical supplementary health benefits program.
The program provides coverage for a variety of health-related services not covered by the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP).
Of those surveyed, only 14 per cent said they have been more diligent with taking their prescribed medications during the pandemic.
Sixty-two per cent of respondents said wanting to be in top health since they are at greater risk if they contract COVID-19 due to a pre-existing condition and 40 per cent said they are finding it easier to remember to take their medication since they are always at home.
Pharmasave says it’s best to speak with a pharmacist when it comes to finding individual solutions to medical adherence.
“There’s those sets you can purchase where you lay out your medications for the week, or pharmacies can package that for you to help make it more convenient, there’s also the option to set up medication reminders,” Grant said.
He adds people can also speak to their pharmacist about different options when it comes to accessing affordable drug coverage plans.