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Many lupus patients on Medicaid fail to take medication as prescribed, study shows

pillsA study of medication compliance in people who have lupus has found that poorer patients on Medicaid were often not taking medications as prescribed. Lupus is a serious autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own tissue as if it were a foreign invader. It affects more women than men, and women of color are two to three times as likely to have lupus as are Caucasian women. Immune suppressors and other drugs are often prescribed to prevent organ damage and to manage symptoms, which include fatigue, pain and joint inflammation.

HealthDay News reports on the recent study:

"It's alarming," said lead researcher [Jinoos Yazdany, MD, MPH,]  of the University of California, San Francisco. "These medications have a proven track record of improving patients' outcomes."

The study used pharmacy claims data, so it's not possible to say why people were not taking their medication as prescribed, Yazdany said.

But money could be one factor. Medicaid covers the drugs, Yazdany noted, but even a small co-pay could be a barrier for low-income patients.

Drug side effects could be another issue, Yazdany said, as could a lack of education about the medications. "Some people may not be fully aware of the benefits of these drugs," she said.

The findings, which were presented on Saturday at the American College of Rheumatology's annual meeting in San Diego, were drawn from a study of 23,187 Medicaid patients who were prescribed one or more medications for lupus. As outlined in the article, during the six-month study period patients "picked up enough medication to cover only 31 percent to 57 percent of the days."

Previously: Rheumatoid arthritis patients not getting necessary medication, Research shows why lupus may be more common in black, Asian people and Consumers’ behavior responsible for $163 billion in wasteful pharmacy-related costs
Photo by rockbadger

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