“Patients with ulcerative colitis often struggle to comply with current 5-ASA treatments because they have to take multiple pills throughout the day,” said study director Sunanda Kane, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago.

Using data from the from the Maryland CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield database, the researchers followed the progress of hundreds of patients who were new users of 5-ASA for an average of 332 days. To determine which patients were most compliant and how that affected costs, the researchers compared data on prescription refills, costs and outcomes from 4,947 pharmacy and medical claims from 2002 through 2004. Patients who refilled their prescriptions within 15 days of the instructed date and did not switch to another drug were considered consistently compliant.

"We learned two things," said Kane. "First, compliance was poor overall, and second, compliance matters." Compliance was "unimpressive" in all groups, she said, "and patients pay the price in terms of worse health and increased costs of care."

Compliance rates were similar for males and females, but the old and the young scored poorly. Fifty-seven percent of patients between 40 and 64 met the standard, followed by 55 percent for those between 18 and 40. For those over 65, compliance fell to 41 percent and for those under 18, to 35 percent.

Non-compliance resulted in higher total healthcare costs for all types of medical services. Costs were 32 percent higher for inpatient services and 44 percent for outpatient costs.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Chicago Medical Center