Why prescribed therapies don't always work

Have you used your creams and other treatments?

A recent study carried out by Feldman and Colleagues at The American Academy of Dermatology has demonstrated that patients do not always use the topical medications they are prescribed, and falsely report to their doctor about their usage, despite never having filled out their prescription to treat their skin complaint.

In a current undercover study recently approved by an ethics committee where neither the Dermatologists or their patients were aware that their activity was being tracked, researchers were astounded to observe that an average of 30.7% of all new dermatology patients failed to fill out their prescriptions, although that figure raised to a staggering 50% when it came down to specifically tracking the behaviour of the Psoriasis patients.

It would seem that this problem is a global one, as Dr Andreas Storm and colleagues from Copenhagen University Hospital in Bispebjerg, Denmark, also reported similar findings after studying the Danish National Electronic Pharmacy Register. This register discloses information on all prescriptions purchased within the past two years across the country. Their analysis included 322 people who were prescribed a total of 390 medications and concluded that four weeks after receiving their prescription that 30.7% of the patients had not filled in their prescriptions.

These findings give a very clear indication to doctors that when conditions do not improve it is important to ascertain whether a patient has actually used a prescribed therapy or even filled out the prescription before recommending another treatment option. The Copenhagen study went on to recommend that one approach to encourage patients to fill out their prescription could involve doctors contacting their patients by phone, mail or in person one week after the medication has been prescribed and to set up an appointment to follow up with patients directly.