It comes as a surprise that as many as 27% of acne patients fail to get or use all their prescription and over the counter medicine. This is more than double the figures estimated in previous studies, according to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
“Non-adherence is a pervasive problem in all of medicine, particularly when treating chronic conditions such as acne,” study author Dr. Steven Feldman, a professor of dermatology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., said in a Wake Forest news release.
In the study, 143 acne patients were directed to use either one, two, or three or more acne treatments by their dermatologists. Those prescribed one medication had a non-adherence rate of about 9%, while those who received two prescribed medication had a non-adherence rate of 40%. At three or more medications prescribed, the rate improved to 31% — most likely because someone needing three acne medications may have had a more serious case.
Other peculiarities with acne sufferers emerged from the study as well. Prescription medications were more likely offered over the counter, but patients were more likely to fill prescriptions for pills. Patients also filled less paper prescriptions than electronic ones.
The researchers have no definitive explanation for why non-adherence is so high among acne patients. They noted that cost could be an issue, as some prescription acne products aren’t covered by health insurance providers.
“The study showed that patients are more inclined to follow the treatment regimen when only one medication is prescribed,” Feldman said. “Multiple agents are typically required to address the multiple factors that cause acne, but simplifying treatment regimens by prescribing products that contain two or more active ingredients could prove effective in reducing non-adherence.”