Medication adherence, simply speaking, is taking your medications exactly as prescribed.1,2 This includes obtaining the prescription fills and refills on time, not missing any doses and taking the correct dose as frequently as written on your prescription.

Why do your prescribers and pharmacists frequently remind you about taking your medications as directed?1 Because nonadherence can lead to further complications that are not immediately recognizable. For example:

  • For cardiovascular disease, nonadherence may cause your heart to work harder or raise the risk of blood clots, heart attack or stroke.
  • With asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, misusing or missing doses with an inhaler prevents the medications from entering your lungs correctly, causing more wheezing episodes.
  • With diabetes, nonadherence to your medication regimen may cause your blood sugar(s) to be out of range.

What might be stopping you from being adherent?2

  • Cost:
    • If you can’t afford your medication, consider generics, alternative medications or using an in-network pharmacy for lower copays.
    • Patient assistance programs may be available for some medications if you meet eligibility criteria.
  • Organization:
    • If you have trouble keeping medication doses on schedule, consider creating notes, setting alarms, placing medications by something you routinely use (e.g., toothbrush) or using a smartphone app to help you remember.
  • Multiple medications:
    • Consider using a medication organizer and compiling a list of all the medications you take.
  • Medication purpose:
    • If you don’t understand why you take a medication or medications, please discuss with your prescriber/pharmacist. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about your medications.


  1. Regan Olsson, “Just What the Doctor Ordered: The Importance of Taking your Medication as Prescribed,” Banner Health, last accessed June 8, 2023,
  2. “Why You Need to Take Your Medications as Prescribed or Instructed,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, last accessed June 8, 2023,

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