DEAR JIM: I went to my doctor for my annual physical about two months ago (I’m 57), and a bone density test indicated that I have osteoporosis. He immediately prescribed a bisphosphonate prescription to boost my bone density, but I haven’t bothered to pick it up yet. I’m really reluctant to take any kind of medication unless absolutely necessary because I have always been very physically active and watch my diet anyway. What do you think? Should I take the medication or not? HESITANT HANNAH FROM HELENA
DEAR HESITANT HANNAH: My answer is “yes,” but why would you listen to me rather than your own doctor? I don’t get it. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
According to a new study by Kaiser Permanente published earlier this month in Osteoporosis International about 30% of women don’t bother to pick up their bisphosphonate prescriptions. The study involved more than 8,454 women over the age of 55 – right in your ballpark – and found that 29.5% of them did not pick up their prescriptions within 60 days after their doctor had ordered them. The problem, of course, is that they are exposing themselves to the increased risk of fractures.
“Although bisphosphonates have been proven to reduce the risk of osteoporotic fracture, low adherence to these medications is common, which contributes to serious and costly health problems,” according to Kristi Reynolds, PhD, MPH, lead author of the study and a research scientist at Kaiser.
The situation is even worse in the broader picture. Previous studies have shown that one out of every three patients in the U.S. who have been prescribed medication by their doctor never even bother to pick it up. To top it off, almost 3 out of every 4 Americans do not even take their prescription according to their doctor’s orders either.
This “non-adherence” contributes to almost 125,000 deaths and a cost of $290 BILLION (that’s BILLION with a B) to our health care system – all because people won’t listen to their doctor and follow directions.
So what’s the point in paying for your health insurance and paying a co-pay to visit your doctor to find out what’s wrong with you only to ignore everything he says anyway? You are wasting your money and his time.
Remember the classic movie Forrest Gump? And, Forrest’s favorite saying – “Stupid is as stupid does?” Don’t be stupid about this – just go pick up your prescription and follow your doctor’s orders. You are doing the right thing by exercising regularly and eating sensibly, but sometimes even a healthy lifestyle needs a little help.