More Than a Third of Americans Report Not Taking Medication as Prescribed Amid Economic Struggles

Survey finds 35% are skimping on medication or skipping them altogether due to high costs

ROCKVILLE, Md.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Over a third of Americans (35%) report making hard – sometimes dangerous – compromises in recent months if they can’t afford their prescription medication, according to new research by iPrescribe, the mobile e-prescribing app by health technology pioneer DrFirst. The survey of 1,023 consumers explores how the economy is affecting people’s ability to afford their medications and healthcare.

“It’s troubling that one in three people tell us they’ve stopped taking their medication or are taking less than prescribed because they can’t afford it,” said Colin Banas, MD, MHA, chief medical officer for DrFirst. “Medication adherence isn’t a nice-to-have, especially for people with chronic health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. Patients get sick and stay sicker longer when they don’t – or can’t – stick to their prescribed therapy.”

The findings indicate that medication adherence rates in the U.S. could drop. Studies show one in four new prescriptions are abandoned at the pharmacy, while half of Americans (50%) with a chronic condition stop taking their medication within a year of being prescribed. Medication non-adherence contributes to 125,000 preventable deaths each year in the U.S., where half (50%) of all treatment failures and one-quarter (25%) of hospital readmissions stem from prescription abandonment.

Because of the economy, some Americans are:

  • Taking less than the prescribed dose to make the medication last (20%)
  • Quitting their medication (15%)
  • Getting a prescription for a higher dose to cut pills in half (14%)

It’s not just adherence but access to healthcare that’s at stake when people struggle with care-related necessities like transportation costs and insurance co-pays. In fact, Americans report fuel prices are making it harder for them to go to health-related appointments (27%) and get to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription (23%).

The survey finds the economy affecting people’s healthcare in other ways, too, including:

  • Delaying healthcare visits or treatments (27%)
  • Finding prescriptions harder to afford (25%)
  • Struggling to afford healthcare co-pays (18%)

Consumers are using several strategies to afford their medications, including:

  • Comparing costs at different pharmacies to find the lowest price (25%)
  • Using coupons and discount cards to save money (21%)
  • Accessing patient assistance programs, such as those available from pharmaceutical manufacturers (18%)
  • Going to a different country to get the medication, either buying online or traveling there directly (15%)

When it comes to price transparency – digital tools that allow patients and prescribers to see individuals’ specific prescription costs based on their insurance – there’s good news and bad, according to Banas.

“Slightly more than half (51%) of those surveyed said they’ve never discussed options to save money on their prescriptions with their doctor, which is a missed opportunity,” Banas said. “But of the 49% who have had those conversations, nearly all (83%) say that doing so helped them find a more affordable option. It underscores what we already know: that physicians and pharmacists are great resources for patients concerned about cost.”

iPrescribe by DrFirst surveys explore consumers’ perspectives about medication use and healthcare in the U.S. DrFirst solutions keep physicians and their patients connected, communicating, and in sync across the care journey through medication management services, including e-prescribing, medication history, and prescription price transparency.


A national online survey of 1,023 U.S. consumers, ages 18 and over, was conducted by Propeller Insights on behalf of iPrescribe by DrFirst in October 2022. Survey responses were nationally representative of the U.S. population for age, gender, region, and ethnicity. The maximum margin of sampling error was +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

About iPrescribe and DrFirst

iPrescribe by DrFirst is the industry-leading mobile prescribing app used by doctors, dentists, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners to quickly and safely prescribe and renew prescriptions anytime, anywhere. Since 2000, DrFirst has pioneered healthcare technology solutions and consulting services that securely connect people at touchpoints of care to improve patient outcomes. We create unconventional solutions that solve care collaboration, medication management, price transparency, and adherence challenges faced in healthcare. We unite the Healthiverse—the interconnected healthcare universe—by providing our clients with real-time access to the information they need, exactly when and how they need it, so patients get the best care possible. DrFirst solutions are used by nearly 325,000 healthcare professionals, including more than 220,000 prescribers, 70,000 pharmacies, 300 EHRs and health information systems, and 1,500 hospitals in the U.S. and Canada. To learn more, visit and follow @DrFirst.


Alessandra Nagy

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