Benefits and risks of drugs

Medication adherence

There is a link between the way we take our medication and the safety of it. Nowadays, we benefit from innovative and effective medicines, but it’s important that we take them as advised by our healthcare professionals. If we fail to take the medicine as prescribed, we may not benefit from it and, worse still, we risk causing damage to ourselves. Not taking a medicine as advised is known as non-adherence and it can result in the mismanagement of your disease, leading to preventable healthcare costs and possibly adversely affecting your quality of life.

Only 50% of patients take their medication as prescribed1

Medication adherence is the degree to which a patient’s behavior corresponds with the recommendation given by a healthcare professional.

There are three different types of non-adherence:

  1. Primary non-adherence
    Not filling a prescription. In this type of non-adherence, a patient never picks up the medication after they have been prescribed it by a health provider. It is also known as non-fulfillment.2

  2. Secondary non-adherence
    Filling a prescription but not taking the medication as prescribed. This could include skipping a dose, taking more medication than prescribed or not taking it at the correct time of day.3

  3. Non-persistence (intentional and unintentional)
    Stopping medication without any advice from a health professional to do so. This type of non-adherence can be intentional when a patient e.g. might not feel the need to take the medication anymore, or might not trust that the medication is having the desired effect. It can also be unintentional and due to reasons outside the patient’s control.4

Annually, it is estimated that medication non-adherence costs the EU 125 billion Euros and causes the death of 200,000 patients5

Poor adherence to treatments, in particular for chronic disease, is a worldwide problem that has long been neglected, but is striking in its magnitude. By making sure patients take their medication as prescribed, the quality of healthcare increases and patients respond better to treatment. At Bayer, we want to raise awareness of how important it is to take medicines as they are prescribed to improve therapy outcomes.




1 Sabaté E, editor. , ed. Adherence to Long-Term Therapies: Evidence for Action. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2003
2 Jimmy, Beena, and Jose, Jimmy. “Patient Medication Adherence: Measures in Daily Practice.” Oman Medical Journal 26.3 (2011): 155–159. Last accessed September 2018.
3 Ibid
4 Ibid
5 OECD, OECD Health Working Paper No. 105; Last accessed September 2018