American women are more likely to skip their medications than those in other wealthy countries and one-quarter say it’s because they can’t afford their prescriptions
- Researchers looked at medication non-adherence in 11 countries including Australia, Canada, France, the UK and the US
- The largest disparities for not taking medication were among American women ages 18 to 64 compared to men at 54%
- By comparison, the disparity between women and men in Canada was 33% and in Australia was 17%
- One in four US women in that age bracket said they weren’t taking their drugs due to cost compared to one in seven younger men
American women are more likely to not properly take their medications – or take them at all – compared to women in other countries, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that women in the US were almost twice as likely to skip their prescriptions compared to Canadian women and three times more likely than Australian women.
What’s more, 25 percent of younger women said they couldn’t adhere to their medication schedules due to the cost.
The team, from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, says this is not only likely because women take more prescriptions than men do but, if it continues, it could create future sex-related disparities.
A new study has found one in four US women from ages 18 to 64 said they weren’t taking their prescriptions due to cost compared to one in seven men in that age bracket (file image)
For the study, published in Health Affairs, the team looked cost-related non-adherence among younger women (ages 18 to 64) and older women (ages 65 or older) in 11 high-income countries.
These countries include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the US.
Results showed that the largest disparities for non-adherence were among younger US women compared to men at 54 percent.
This was much higher than the disparity between women and men in Canada at 33 percent and in Australia at 17 percent.
One in four younger women said they weren’t taking their drugs due to cost compared to one in seven younger men.
Comparing 11 countries, the largest disparities for not taking medication were among American women ages 18 to 64 compared to men at 54% (above)
This large disparity still held true even after the researchers adjusted for factors such as age, income and chronic conditions.
However, there were no significant female-differences among older adults in any of the 11 studied countries.
The team says it believes the sex-related inequality is likely due to women’s higher health needs and higher overall prescription use.
From 2015 to 2016, 41 percent of US males reported receiving one or more prescription drugs compared to 50 percent of females.
For patients, especially those with chronic conditions, not taking prescribed medication due to cost is a common problem, says senior author Dr Jamie Daw, an assistant professor of Health Policy and Management at Mailman.
If women choose to not fill or delay refilling prescriptions, skip doses or split pills, they may risk not getting the full benefit for their treatment.
‘Prescription drug coverage systems – like those in the US and Canada – that rely on employment-based insurance or require high patient contributions may disproportionally affect women, who are less likely to have full-time employment and more likely to be lower income,’ Daw said.
‘The disparities we found in access to medicines may produce health disparities between men and women that should be further explored.’