Quarter of Canadians don’t take medication properly says survey

(© Can Stock Photo / Sheri_Armstrong)

Pharmacists are sounding the alarm over too many people taking their medications incorrectly, especially during a pandemic when health care resources are stretched to the limit.

A survey done by Pharmasave in January showed that 26 per cent of the more than 10,000 respondents admitted taking their medication differently than what was prescribed or stopped taking it altogether without consulting their doctor or pharmacist. Pharmacists are calling this a serious healthcare issue that needs attention and have launched a public education campaign to shine a light on the dangers of not taking medication as directed.

Pharmacist Jannette Pinson-Santos, who owns three Pharmasave pharmacies in the area, including Chatham, said not following prescriptions is alarming and dangerous because it puts personal safety at risk and adds more stress on hospitals, which are already burdened dealing with the pandemic.

“It definitely is alarming because if you’re not taking them according to how they’re being prescribed, it could lead to the progression of the diseases, it could lead to the worsening of the medical conditions and eventually hospitalizations,” said Pinson-Santos. “You don’t want to cause additional burden to the exhausted resources we have already.”

She added it’s more important than ever to take medications as directed because chronic care has been disrupted at the hospitals during COVID-19.

Pinson-Santos said good record keeping and communication are also crucial to avoid mix ups and serious consequences with the COVID-19 vaccine dosage. She said it’s important to notify a caregiver or a family member along with your doctor and pharmacist when you get the COVID-19 vaccine to avoid getting the second dose too early or even getting more than the required doses. There have been reports in Toronto and Ohio of people getting more than two doses just days apart or getting two doses the same day after miscommunication between retirement homes and hospitals.

“Keep yourself updated because it’s an ever-evolving pandemic. One thing we know today could be different tomorrow. It is evolving and you have to adapt to that,” she said.

Some of the top reasons given for not following prescription labels were forgetfulness, the medications were too expensive, and the patient felt better and stopped taking the medication.

Pinson-Santos said pharmacists have helpful tips, tools and programs to help clients with their medications and their affordability.