Survey finds 4 in 10 seniors do not take all their prescriptions

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Many seniors are not taking their medicines. A national survey found that 4 in 10 seniors have not taken all the drugs their doctors prescribed for them in the past year. Either the costs were too high, they did not think the drugs were helping them or they did not think they needed them, responses showed. A total of 17,685 seniors participated in the survey.

Many seniors deal with complex and costly drug regimens, the study found. A total of 89% of seniors report taking prescription drugs in the previous year and nearly half (46%) take five or more. More than half (54%) have more than one doctor who prescribes medicine, and about a third (35%) use more than one pharmacy.

Also, among seniors with at least three chronic health conditions, nearly three of four (73%) take five or more medications regularly and more than half (52%) do not take all their drugs as prescribed.

The Kaiser Family Foundation, the Commonwealth Fund and Tufts-New England Medical Center conducted the survey of Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 and older. An article on the survey and exhibits can be found at http://www.kff.org/medicare/med041905pkg.cfm.