How many times a month do you find yourself at the pharmacy dropping off prescriptions or picking up refills? If you’re like the 69 million Americans taking three or more prescriptions for a chronic illness, you probably find yourself making multiple trips to the pharmacy each month. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
There are programs that are being used by community pharmacies which allow your medications to be refilled on the same day each month. These medication synchronization services offer a convenience for many people who are managing chronic conditions and needing to take multiple medicines. If you take several medications to manage a medical condition that requires long-term use, it may help you to keep taking your medicines by picking them up with one visit to the pharmacy.
Improving Medication Adherence
Medication adherence refers to people taking their medications as prescribed (e.g., once or twice a day), as well as continuing to take it as long as it is prescribed. It may be hard to believe, but approximately 50% of people stop taking their chronic medications within six months of a new prescription. Adherence is of particular concern because not taking medication as your healthcare professional prescribes can lead to adverse health outcomes – it can also result in increased health costs to the people with chronic illnesses as well as to the healthcare system.
Improving adherence is complicated because there are many different reasons people stop taking their medications. These may include cost, cultural and/or religious beliefs, forgetfulness, a worry that the medication isn’t helping, or a feeling that the medication side effects are intolerable.
Med Sync Programs
Some pharmacies offer a med sync program. To find out whether your pharmacy is enrolled in one, simply ask your pharmacist.
Another way to locate a participating pharmacy nearest you is to visit http://www.alignmyrefills.com and enter your zip code or search for your state on the Pharmacy Locator. Align My Refills is a website that was created by a national pharmacy association, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), and funded by Pfizer. Align My Refills lists some of the pharmacies that offer a med sync program. Note that not all pharmacies that offer a med sync program have chosen to be listed on this site.
How It Works
Once you find a pharmacy that offers the service, speak with the pharmacist about signing up. The pharmacy care team will then review your ongoing monthly prescriptions and sync them up. After that, your prescription refills will be completed on the same day, instead of on several random days throughout each month, reducing the number of trips to the pharmacy for you.
About a week before your prescriptions are due for a refill, the pharmacy will call you to confirm your medications. The phone call may include asking you the following questions:
Have you seen your doctor since the last time you refilled your prescriptions?
Has anything significant changed in your health or your medications since the last time you refilled your prescriptions?
Have you been in the hospital since the last time you refilled your prescriptions?
Depending on your responses, you may be given the opportunity to discuss your current situation with the pharmacist or pharmacy staff. They will discuss with you whether the matter should be handled by you or the pharmacy team. They may communicate directly with your doctor or offer you guidance on resolving any issues.
The primary goal of adherence programs is to help you stay on your medicine and stay as healthy as you can for as long as you can. They can help to improve your experience at the pharmacy and increase communication between you, your pharmacist and your doctor.
David W. Searle, PharmD, is the Director of Pharmacy Development at Pfizer.
Paula R. DeCola, RN, MSc, is a Director in External Medical Affairs at Pfizer.
Do you not take your medicines as prescribed? You are not alone.
On The Dr. Phil Show, Pfizer’s Chief Medical Officer, Freda Lewis-Hall, M.D., and Dr. Phil sit down with couple, Linda and Ron, to understand why Linda, who suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis, doesn’t take her meds and explain why being adherent is important, especially when managing a chronic illness.