Pharmacists stress importance of knowing which medications you’re taking — and why

MADISON, Wis. — The latest numbers from Georgetown University’s “Health Policy Institute” show more than 131 million Americans, 66% of all adults, use prescription drugs every day.

But how much do you know about what you’re taking and why?

The majority of adults who have one of five common, chronic conditions (diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, arthritis, and cancer) use prescription drugs.

For example, 89% of people with arthritis and 98% of people with diabetes use prescription drugs every day. These high levels of drug use also reflect the fact that many people have multiple, chronic conditions.

“If there’s something that feels off for you, doesn’t feel right, or you’re concerned, please bring it to our attention,” said Jennifer Piccolo, UW-Health pharmacist and panel participant. “We certainly don’t want to ignore something that could be a side effect for you that might not be for the general public.”

“People will often suffer through side effects without realizing there’s something they can do about them,” Piccolo added.

Those side effects can escalate anxiety for people taking prescriptions. On top of that, Georgetown’s “Health Policy Institute” says 21% of people cut the amount they spend on food, heat, or other necessities so they can afford their medications.

Anxiety aside, prescription medications are often a financial burden, too. The average adult pays $177 out-of-pocket for their prescriptions every year, according to Georgetown’s “Health Policy Institute.” For people between the ages of 65 and 79, that price tag grows to $456 out-of-pocket.

“We really believe in patients being active in their care,” said Kirsten Norslien, from Gilda’s Club. “The process of getting a cancer diagnosis and going through treatment can be pretty overwhelming and information helps take you off that trajectory a little bit.”

Gilda’s Club of Middleton is a local organization that provides support to those battling cancer and their family members.