Are You Taking Medication As Prescribed?

Recent Study by Joint Health Management Board Indicates No Change in Usage Between Generics and Brand Name Drugs

MedicationsMedication adherence, or taking medications correctly, is generally defined as the extent to which patients take medication as prescribed by their doctors. This involves factors such as getting prescriptions filled, remembering to take medication on time, and understanding the directions.

Common barriers to medication adherence include:

  1. 1. The inability to pay for medications
  2. 2. Disbelief that the treatment is necessary or helping
  3. 3. Difficulty keeping up with multiple medications and complex dosing schedules
  4. 4. Confusion about how and when to take the medication

Poor adherence can interfere with the ability to treat many diseases, leading to greater complications from the illness and a lower quality of life for patients.


The Fresno Unified School District Joint Health Management Board (JHMB) periodically reviews data to determine whether cost and other factors are impacting medication adherence. Specifically, the JHMB reviews the medication possession ratio, which is defined as days of medication supplied divided by days of medication prescribed. In order to determine whether $35 copays for brand drugs result in members not filling their entire prescription, the JHMB’s professional staff compares medication possession ratios for brand drugs versus generic drugs where the copay is $10.


($10 copay)


($35 copay if no generic equivalent)

Average JHMB Adherence Rate 1/1/14 – 4/30/14

(Medications for Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, and High Cholesterol)



While the cost difference between generic drugs and brand drugs is significant, and members are encouraged to use generic equivalents of brand medications when available, it appears that the cost difference between generics and brand medications is not making a difference in whether members fill their prescription. Despite the cost difference, members filled 95% of their medication at both cost tiers in the first 4 months of the year.

Tips for Maintaining Medication Adherence

  • Communicate with your health care professional. If medication side effects are bothering you, talk with your doctor or pharmacist about what you can do to lessen the problem. You might be able to switch to a different medication or your doctor may be able to adjust the timing of your dose.
  • Set daily routines to take medication. It can be helpful to connect taking the medication with normal, daily activities such as eating meals or going to bed. You can also keep backup supplies of your medication at your workplace or in your briefcase or purse.
  • Keep medications where you’ll notice them. For a medication that should be taken with food, place that medication on the dinner table or TV tray, or wherever you eat on a regular basis. If there are medications you need to take in the morning, put those medications in your bathroom, next to your toothbrush or your deodorant, or something else that you use as part of your morning routine.
  • Use daily dosing containers. These are available at most pharmacies and allow you to keep medications in compartments that are labeled with the days of the week and various dosage frequencies.
  • Keep a written or computerized schedule. This can cover the medications you take, how often you take them, and any special directions.


JHMB data was supplied by CitizensRx. The measurement period was from 1/1/14 to 4/30/14. The source for tips and introductory materials is

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