Could Rising Prescription Drug Use Stem from Pharmacists Promoting Adherence?

NOVEMBER 04, 2015
Fred Eckel, RPh, MS

How should pharmacists view the recent news that prescription drug use is on the rise and polypharmacy has become more prevalent?

On the one hand, it means that pharmacists have more prescriptions to fill. On the other hand, it could mean that direct-to-consumer advertising is leading people to take more drugs than they need. 

Perhaps it means that more patients have health insurance and are therefore able to get the drugs they need. Or, could it mean that pharmacists are doing a better job promoting medication adherence?

I like this last thought because it suggests that pharmacists are adding value to the drug distribution process. If we are adding value, rather than just being a “cost center,” then we have a future as health care reform occurs. 

Another perspective is that the right drug therapy contributes to improved health care and that is being recognized by patients, prescribers, and pharmacists. 

How do you explain the increased prescription drug use?