The Adherence Challenge

Adherence seems to be the buzzword these days, from think tanks such as the New England Healthcare Institute to our own shop here at NCPA. During his address at last year’s annual convention, then-NCPA Executive Vice President and CEO Bruce T. Roberts, RPh, issued an adherence challenge to the profession. He said that as one of its most crucial and basic functions, community pharmacists must advocate and promote to patients the importance of taking their medication as prescribed.

You might be thinking, “What’s in it for me?” or “Why should I care about improving patient adherence?” As a society, we’re all affected by non-adherence. The costs associated with non-adherence are staggering, with our health care system being “taxed” $290 billion in avoidable medical spending every year when patients don’t take their medications as prescribed.

The health consequences of non- adherence are alarming as well. A reported 125,000 patients die annually of cardiovascular disease alone as a result of non-adherence to prescribed medication. It’s a perplexing and huge puzzle to grapple with and it won’t be solved overnight, but we must recognize the critical role pharmacists play in improving medication adherence and the beneficial opportunities that follow. Think about it: we are the medication experts and the most accessible health care providers in the community. We serve as key touch points for patients and can effectively monitor their medication use as they move through the health care system.

NCPA believes that attention to patient adherence must become the standard of practice for pharmacists in the future, and we are working toward achieving a goal we have set for our profession. It is our association’s vision that in five years the actions taken by community pharmacists will result in measurable improvement in patient adherence.

So in every corner of the association, from student affairs to the government and legislative department, NCPA is taking strides to ensure that medication adherence becomes a consistent practice for every pharmacist. NCPA is committed to sharing clinical pearls, best practices, communication tips, and the business case behind improving patient medication adherence. We’ll show you how adherence only takes a minute.

Take care of your patients and the rest will follow. It’s a win-win.

Reprinted with permission from National Community Pharmacists Association in the July 2010 issue of America’s Pharmacist. For more information about NCPA, visit

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