Oct. 28, 2013

In Treatment Adherence Study, Many Medicaid Beneficiaries Struggled to Stay on Medications

(San Diego, California)  October 28, 2013 -- Researchers from the University of California and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston recently examined adherence among Medicaid beneficiaries with lupus to prescribed medications and found the patients were not following treatment plans, putting themselves at risk for poor outcomes. 

Results of the study will be presented Tuesday in San Diego, during the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting, by Dr. Jinoos Yazdany, associate clinical director of the Lupus Clinic at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center; and lead investigator in the study.  Dr. Yazdany’s team reviewed Medicaid records of lupus patients who had received either an immunosuppressive or an anti- malarial drug through an outpatient pharmacy between the years of 2000 and 2006. These drugs are the cornerstones of treatment for patients with lupus, and the treatments have been shown to reduce disease activity, joint and organ damage, and death.  The researchers used pharmacy claims to assess adherence to treatment instructions. Patients’ adherence to specific drugs ranged from 31.1 percent to 56.9 percent, and rates varied among different groups.  For most lupus medications, fewer than one in three beneficiaries were following their doctors instructions.    

Because the study relied on pharmacy claims as a primary source of information, the researchers were unable to gather further information that might explain exactly why patients found it difficult to adhere to needed treatment. More research is needed to determine why patients struggled to continue their medications.

Steady adherence to prescribed treatment, in conjunction with frequent and open communication with one’s medical team, is the best way to manage lupus and increase one’s quality of life. Medical, financial or other treatment concerns should be discussed with your doctor.  In turn, doctors should collaborate with patients to set a treatment and compliance plan that will ensure their patients have access to the lifesaving medications. The Lupus Foundation of America offers several resources around taking medications and locating financial resources to access medications.

ACR press release: United States Medicaid Beneficiaries Not Adequately Following Lupus Treatment Plans

Link to abstract: https://ww2.rheumatology.org/apps/MyAnnualMeeting/Abstract/34623

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