Did you know that at an average of more than 20 pills a day, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) patients (especially those on dialysis) may have the highest pill burden of ANY chronic disease? Phosphate binders account for 49% of the daily pill burden, which exceeded 10 in 91% of the dialysis patients, 20 in 47%, and more than 30 in 17%. This higher burden was directly connected to a lower quality of life and poorer health outcomes, in large part due to non-adherence. But, to improve the quality of your life and personal well-being, there are a few things that you can do.
Managing medications can be difficult when the cost of your drugs are far outside your monthly budget. If you are having trouble paying for your prescriptions talk with your Nephrologists who likely know of comparable, less expensive drugs or generics that may be available to you. They can also request an exception from your insurance company to cover necessary medication, or "pay at a lower tier." Some Nephrologists may even provide you free samples of urgent medications while you seek other coverage options.
Recommended Reading: Easy Ways to Remember to Take your Medication
Drug companies themselves, may offer Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) where they offer free drugs, or at a discount to those in dire need. You can further seek assistance in affording your medication from your state. Approximately half of the states have State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs (SPAPs) to help people with limited incomes pay for their prescriptions. Email KidneyBuzz.com (email@example.com) for more information and contacts to relevant state programs. Extra Help is yet another program available to you, where you will save money on your drug plan premium, deductible, and at the pharmacy. Most typical prescriptions are reduced to a cost between $1.15 and $6.60.
To maintain adherence and save time, try setting up medication days in advance using pill boxes. Many healthcare providers offer them for free so ask your Nephrologists or Social Workers if you do not already have one. Take any given day's box when you go out so you do not skip meds or take them late. You may also want to set a few reminder alarms on your phone or watch. Another good tip is to pick a task that you do every day and take your meds at the same time. For instance, take your meds every morning when you brush your teeth or make breakfast.
If confidentiality is an issue, excuse yourself and take your medicine in a private area such as a restroom. Another complaint is that medication side effects make it difficult to take meds on time. If this is a problem, consult your health care provider who can prescribe meds for nausea or adjust your medications to minimize the side effects.
While these suggestions will help, adherence is something that must be dealt with on a daily basis. If you find you are unable to adhere to prescribed regimens, let your Nephrologists know as soon as possible so your medication regimen can be promptly adjusted. Not adhering to therapy can cause harmful resistance and make future treatments more difficult.
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Mark Cichocki, R.N. "Medication Adherence Tools." Http://aids.about.com/. Medication Adherence Tools.
Crystal Phend. "Dialysis Patients Take the Most Pills." Http://www.medpagetoday.com/. MedPage Today, LLC.
"Pill Burden, Adherence, Hyperphosphatemia, and Quality of Life in Maintenance Dialysis Patients." Http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
"5 Ways to Save Money on Your Medications." Http://www.ncoa.org/. National Council Of Aging.