Middle-aged and older Americans with heart disease who cut back on their prescribed medications because of cost were 50% more likely to suffer heart attacks, strokes, or angina than those who did not report cost-related medication underuse, according to a new study funded in part by the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health. Michele Heisler, M.D., M.P.A., at the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System, Ann Arbor, MI, and colleagues* conducted the study, which appears in the July 2004 issue of Medical Care, a journal of the American Public Health Association.
This is the first nationally representative longitudinal study to demonstrate that patients with serious chronic illnesses experience adverse health events when they restrict their use of prescription drugs due to cost. The downturns in patients’ health were observed over a relatively brief (2-3 year) period, suggesting that cost barriers to prescription drug use may have important short-term effects on older patients’ health and well-being, Heisler said.
"This study underlines how important medications can be and how important it is for people who need the medications to be able to get them," said HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. "This is why a new drug benefit for Medicare was so crucial, including the interim drug card with its special benefit for low-income Americans. It’s also why FDA is working to make generic products available quickly, as well as rapid review for significant new medications. We need to keep working toward better access to drugs and keep supporting the science that underlies ever-improving products."
Jeannine Mjoseth | EurekAlert!
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