The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that women are more likely to delay, skip or take less medication prescribed by doctors because of the cost.
The CDC’s National Health Interview Survey is an annual survey that asks tens thousands of Americans about their experiences with health.
In 2021, about one in ten adults (18-64 years old) reported that they had skipped, delayed or used less medication than prescribed in the last year in order to save money. In terms of nonadherence, women were more likely than men to do so: 9.1% against 7%.
“I wasn’t surprised by the results, but I find them disheartening,” Robin Feldman said, an expert in intellectual property and pharmaceutical law at the University of California College of the Law (formerly the University of California Hastings). Women still carry the majority of household and child-care responsibilities. In the face of time or financial pressures, they may put their health on the back burner.
Stacie Dusetzina is a professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee. She said that the gender gap may also be due the fact women younger than 65 are more likely to take medication or to have taken it.
Dusetzina also noted that men tend to earn less than women.
Eric Tichy is a Mayo Clinic pharmacist and the division chair for pharmacy supply solutions. He said that not taking prescribed medications could “make health problems worse, lead to more serious illnesses and result in additional expensive treatments.” It’s a vicious circle.
According to the CDC, more than half of Americans aged 18-64 take at least one prescribed drug.
In the CDC survey, adults with disabilities are more likely to delay or skip medication in order to save money. People with fair or poor health are almost three times more likely to skip, delay or take less medication in order to reduce costs.
Adults who did not have insurance, and Black and nonwhite Hispanics, were also more likely to stop taking their medication due to cost than white and Asian adults.
Robin Cohen, a CDC statistician and co-author, pointed out that the report did not examine what prescriptions were being taken or what conditions they were for. The study also looked only at those who didn’t take their medications due to cost.
She said, “There may be other reasons why people don’t take their medication as prescribed. But we don’t evaluate them.”
Inma Hernandez is an associate professor of University of California San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences. She said that the Inflation Reduction Act was signed into law in last year. It aims to lower the costof prescribed drugs.
Hernandez said that it is possible that a law provision that penalizes pharmaceutical companies that increase the price of their medications faster than the inflation rate could benefit adults younger than 65. This provision will take effect in 2024.
She said that it is possible for spillover effects to occur.
Feldman says that more work may be needed in the interim. Mark Cuban, a billionaire investor, launched the Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Co. last year. It offers generic drugs at discounted rates. California also announced plans for its own low cost insulin. It will partner up with CivicaRx a nonprofit generics drug company.
Feldman stated that “there is still much to do to bring sanity into drug pricing.”
Follow NBC HEALTH Twitter & Facebook.