Woman with handful of pills in one hand and glass of water in the other

The Side Effects of Not Taking Prescribed Medications

By Jeremy Feifar, PharmD

Why Don’t People Take Their Meds?

Researchers, who have been studying the top reasons why people don’t take their meds as directed, have found that they –

  • Get confused
  • Don’t have symptoms
  • Don’t like the side effects
  • Can’t pay for the drug
  • Believe it is a sign of weakness to need drugs
  • Forget to take them

“Drugs don’t work in the patients who don’t take them”

– Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop

What Are the Consequences?

Researchers have also found that people not taking their prescribed medications is estimated to cause 125,000 deaths in the U.S. and leads to 10 to 25 percent of hospitalizations and nursing homes admissions annually.

Tips to Help You Remember to Take Your Meds

  • Place your medications by your toothbrush so you see them twice a day
  • Use a weekly pill organizer
  • Download a smartphone app that will prompt you with reminders

Talk to Your Doctor or Pharmacist

Let your doctor / pharmacist know if you aren’t taking your medications as prescribed and tell them the reason.
They can address any concerns you may have. They may even help direct you to financial aid that may make it more affordable or switch you to a different medication. Don’t be afraid to ask about alternatives since there are multiple drugs that may be used to treat most diseases.


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