Doctors Fear Patients Not Filling Prescriptions

New Epocrates Survey Reveals Patients May Make Harmful Choices in Efforts to Contain Costs

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I will take the time to help them find a solution so they don't start messing with their medication and do more harm in the long run.

San Mateo, CA (PRWEB) February 10, 2009

Americans are faced with having to make more difficult economic choices than ever before. A new survey conducted by Epocrates, Inc., released today, reveals that physicians nationwide are concerned patients are being forced to make cutbacks on medications that could be harmful to their health. Additionally, doctors report an increase in requests for generic medications since the economy has weakened.

Nearly 95 percent of physicians surveyed said they have some degree of concern that patients may not be complying with the prescription they wrote because of the economic climate. Physicians are primarily concerned that patients are not getting prescriptions filled or skipping doses. Respondents also fear patients are trying to extend their medication supply by splitting pills, or discontinuing treatments that help with disease prevention or maintenance without consulting their physician.

"These are challenging times for many Americans, and some people make the mistake of deciding needed medication is less important," said Dr. Edison Tan. "If patients have financial concerns they should speak with their physician about alternatives--there is a lot we can do to help."

Patients struggling with medication costs can ask their doctor about lower cost options, such as generics or drugs covered by the patient's health plan with lower out of pocket costs. Almost 60 percent of survey respondents revealed that more patients have been requesting generic medications in the past six months. Furthermore, 55 percent of physicians report they wrote more prescriptions for generic medications in 2008 versus 2007. Approximately 50 percent of physicians believe generic drugs are clinically equivalent to brand drugs, whereas the remaining respondents feel it depends on the medication, or in some cases, a generic can be inferior to brand name drugs. Patients are still influential in the prescribing process, with respondents revealing patient preference or request as the two main reasons for selecting a brand name medication over a generic.

When asked what technology helps them save patients money on prescriptions, respondents selected electronic formulary references, followed by electronic medical records. Doctors report primarily turning to a mobile or online reference guide such as Epocrates to identify affordable medications for their patients. Pharmacists were also recognized as a helpful resource to physicians looking for a generic counterpart when they callback with an alternative to the brand name drug prescribed.

"I have many patients who have either lost their job, have no insurance, or are on a limited income and are not able to afford their medications. On most occasions, I look for a cheaper medication, give them samples if available, or get them set up with assistance programs," said Dr. Andrew Moultrie. "I will take the time to help them find a solution so they don't start messing with their medication and do more harm in the long run."

Survey Background
This survey was conducted by Epocrates, Inc. among 700 U.S. physicians registered with the company. For full survey results or to speak with a participant about helping find affordable medication options for patients, please contact pr@epocrates.com.

About Epocrates, Inc.
Epocrates is a leading provider of clinical information and decision support tools to healthcare professionals. Epocrates currently has more than 600,000 active subscribers worldwide, including more than one in four U.S. physicians and more than one in three U.S. medical students. The company's subscription-based services enable healthcare professionals to make more informed medical decisions, reduce medical errors and practice more efficiently. For more information about Epocrates, please visit http://www.epocrates.com/company.

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