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To Save on Drug Costs, Consumers Cut Corners

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, August 24, 2010

Consumers have been economizing on healthcare costs in ways that could be dangerous to their health, including cutting back on their medications, according to a Consumer Reports National Research Center health prescription drug poll released Tuesday.

In the past year, 39% of more than 1,100 individuals interviewed said that they took some action save money. Among those surveyed, 27% who take medication said they failed to comply with their prescriptions, while 38% of those younger than 65 without drug coverage skipped filling prescriptions altogether.

The poll found that nearly half (45%) of Americans take at least one prescription drug on a regular basis, and on average, they routinely take four medications.

More than two-thirds (69%) of those taking prescription drugs said pharmaceutical manufacturers have too much influence on physicians' prescribing decisions, and half said that physicians are too eager to prescribe a drug when various non-drug options are available for managing a condition.

Another 51% said they thought that physicians did not consider a patient's ability to pay when prescribing a drug, nearly half (47%) said they thought gifts from pharmaceutical companies influenced physicians' choices of drugs for their patients, and 41% said they thought physicians tended to prescribe newer, more expensive drugs.

The advertising budgets of pharmaceutical companies are  having an impact on consumers, the survey noted: 20% of consumers who take a prescription drug have asked their physicians for a drug they saw advertised, with a majority of those physicians (59%) agreeing to prescribe the medication.

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