One-third of Americans with prescriptions 'have never had a medication review'

Modern medicine and prescription drugs provide vital treatment and cures for a host of ailments and diseases, but in some cases, simple lifestyle changes may alleviate symptoms and reduce the risk of conditions worsening or recurring. A recent Consumer Reports survey revealed more than one-third (35%) of patients taking prescription drugs have never had their medication reviewed by a healthcare provider to establish whether any can be eliminated.

The nationally representative survey, which polled 1,947 adults, found more than half of Americans regularly take prescription drugs. Furthermore, the study found these people took an average of four different drugs, with many also taking over-the-counter medication or dietary supplements. Of those polled, 53 percent received prescription drugs from more than one healthcare provider, further increasing the risk of adverse drug effects. 

Despite this, Consumer Reports also found almost half (49%) of those taking prescription medication had conferred with their healthcare providers about the possibility of stopping taking a drug. Of these, seven out of ten managed to successfully cease taking at least one medication. Ellen Kunes, Health and Food Content Development Team Leader for Consumer Reports, commented: "We can see that when consumers ask if they can stop taking at least one of their medications, in the majority of cases, their doctors agree."

In light of its latest findings, Consumer Reports highlighted 12 medical conditions and problems that could potentially be addressed with lifestyle changes rather than medication. It suggested this treatment option could reduce exposure to side effects and minimize the possibility of adverse drug reactions. Among the conditions it identified were: ADHD, back and joint pain, dementia, mild depression, heartburn, insomnia, low testosterone, osteopenia, overactive bladder, prediabetes, prehypertension, and obesity.

A further benefit enjoyed by patients who consider lifestyle changes as part of their treatment is a smaller healthcare bill. Over the last 20 years, the number of prescriptions filled in the U.S. has risen from 2.4 billion to 4.5 billion, according to figures from health research firm Quintile IMS. In May this year, the latest Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs nationally representative survey found 28 million Americans experienced an increase in the cost of their prescription medication over the preceding 12 months. It identified a number of possible causes for increases to drug costs, including changes to formularies, high-deductible insurance plans, and the extremely high prices placed on a small number of medications. 

For the millions of Americans who require prescription drugs, there are ways to reduce expenditure on medication. Comparing prices at local pharmacies with RxSpark and using the RxSpark discount card can save up to 80 percent on the cash price of many prescription medicines. In some cases, it may even prove cheaper to bypass insurance companies, as the co-pay for prescriptions can be higher than discounted prices found on RxSpark.

If you are concerned about your medication, want to discuss other treatment options, or would like to stop taking a prescription, book an appointment with your physician or healthcare provider.