Diabetes patients skip medications to save money

ANN ARBOR, Mich. In a recent nationwide survey, University of Michigan Health System researchers found diabetes patients' prescription drugs costs which frequently mounted above $100 a month created a financial burden that led to increasing credit card debt, borrowing money from family or friends and even cutting back on basic needs such as food or heat.

Nearly one in five older adults with diabetes in the survey reported cutting back on prescription medication in the prior year because of costs, and 15 percent used less of their medication at least once per month because of the cost.

By not taking their medications as prescribed, patients had poorer diabetes control, more symptoms and worse physical and mental functioning, researchers found.

"We're really just beginning to appreciate how common it is that people with chronic illnesses are cutting back on prescription medication use because of the cost. We have not yet fully estimated the impact that these costs have on other aspects of patients' lives. We may already be seeing the fallout in terms of poorer health status. While prescription drug coverage may seem expensive, a good plan may save Medicare and other health insurance companies in the long run by preventing serious health problems," says John Piette, Ph.D., a career scientist at the Ann Arbor VA Healthcare System and an associate professor of general medicine at U-M Medical School.

These findings are reported in two separate studies published this month. Piette is the lead author for both studies.

In one study, published in the February issue of Diabetes Care, researchers surveyed 875 people with diabetes across the United States who used prescription drugs to control their blood sugar. Participants were asked if they had ever taken less of their diabetes medications or any other prescription drugs in the last year because of cost concerns.

Half of the participants reported using at least

Contact: Nicole Fawcett
University of Michigan Health System

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