According to a new study, while women use more prescription drugs than men, they are less likely to be prescribed drugs according to clinical guidelines and are not as good about adhering to the medications they are prescribed. The research was conducted by Medco Health Solutions, Inc. and the Society for Women's Health Research and presented Saturday at Women's Health 2012: The 20th Annual Congress.
The study found that women of all ages use more medications - an average of five drugs, compared to less than four (3.7) drugs for men, and that more women than men (68 percent versus 59 percent) took at least one chronic or acute medication during the study period. The higher average persisted even after accounting for prescription contraceptives.
Despite higher utilization of medications, women were overall less adherent than men and not prescribed treatments in alignment with recommended guidelines as often as men. Differences were most dramatic among patients with cardiovascular disease and diabetes where women showed poorer outcomes than men in 25 out of 25 clinical measures.
For women, electing not to take a medication after they have already started could be due to a variety of reasons, including: adverse side effects; inability to tolerate the medication; or failure to see or feel improvements in their health. Some of these responses could be due to the fact that women are oftentimes prescribed drugs with guidelines and dosing based on research conducted predominately on male subjects.