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Your Pharmacist Can Be Your Adherence Ally

December 1999/January 2000

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

Achieving optimal clinical benefits from your medication depends upon how well you adhere to the medication's instructions.

Adherence can be defined as a mutual agreement between you and your physician to follow your physician's specific set of orders.

A variety of factors influence the likelihood of medication adherence.

  • Your health beliefs

  • Counseling from your care providers regarding medication usage

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  • The complexity, duration and cost of your medication

  • Side effects


Adherence Tips

Your pharmacist can play a vital role in promoting adherence with medications. Your pharmacist can assess your understanding of the medication and its use, interact and maintain communication with your physician, provide education and counseling, and build a positive partnership between you and your health care provider.

As a patient, you can follow a few simple steps in order to enhance your own adherence with your medication. These are:

  • Make sure you can read the instruction sheet and direction on the labels on the medicine bottles before packages.

  • Take a few minutes to review the instructions before leaving the pharmacy. If there is anything you do not understand, ask the pharmacist for assistance.

  • Get all your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. That way, the pharmacist can keep track of all your medications, and will alert you of any medicine interactions.

  • Establish a daily routine for taking your medicine. It is easier to remember to take your medicine if you associate it with a "cue," such as taking your medications when brushing your teeth.

  • Track refill patterns.

  • Educate yourself regarding expected duration of therapy, and adverse effects of the medication.


Staying Organized

As a pharmacist, I use a variety of methods in assisting patients to adhere to their medication orders.

For example, I have provided containers for organizing pills for patients. Some of these containers have alarms to remind patients when to take the next dose.

My regular customers are given a dosage-reminder beeper. These devices, which are programmed to signal when it is time to take a dose of your medication, can be carried in one's pocket or hung from a key chain.

Studies suggest that perhaps half of all prescription drugs may not produce the desired results because they are not used properly. Work with your health care providers to find the best way to ensure that you practice adherence with your medication.

Mohammed Etimann, R.Ph., can be reached by calling (213) 792-9359 or at Total Remedy & Prescription Center in Los Angeles, (877) 481-1130.


This article has been reprinted at The Body with the permission of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA).

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!



  
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This article was provided by AIDS Project Los Angeles. It is a part of the publication Positive Living.
 
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Word on the Street: Advice on Adhering to HIV Treatment
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