Tips to Help You Stay on Your Medicine

Sometimes, it isn’t just forgetfulness that keeps you from taking your medications as your doctor prescribed. It may be because your drugs are messy or inconvenient. Or they cost too much. Or you always run out of pills before you can get refills.

Here are some ways to make smart choices to help you stick to your medication schedule.

Pick the Easiest Form

Some medications come in different formulas -- as a pill, a liquid, spray, or something else. If you don’t like to swallow pills, ask if it comes as a chewable tablet or as a syrup. If you dislike the taste of medicine, then a pill that you wash down with a glass of water may be the way to go. Your doctor or pharmacist can advise you on your options and help you pick the best one.

Check for Cheaper Alternative

Even with insurance, the cost of your medication -- especially if you have to take a lot or for a long time -- may make it hard for you to stick with your treatment. For many drugs, the generic version may work just as well as the name brand for much less money. Ask your doctor if you can switch.

If your drug isn’t available as a generic or if your doctor recommends only the branded version, ask for free samples or discount coupons. Many drugmakers supply coupons to doctors’ offices or have them on their websites. Also check with your pharmacist about any discounts before you fill the prescription.

Combine Pills

It may be easier to take one pill that packs two or more different medications. Some high blood pressure drugs come in triple combinations that you can take in a single dose.

Take It Less Often

It’s usually easiest to remember to take your medicine if you have to do it just once a day. Ask your doctor if you have a choice about dosage or other decisions that can affect when and how often you take your prescription drugs.

Ask for a Longer Supply

It may be hard for you to visit your pharmacy once a month, or at all. Many insurance plans let you order 3 months’ worth at a time. You can also have it delivered by mail, sometimes with free shipping.

Know When to Quit

You need to take some medications, like pain relievers, only until you feel better. Other drugs, like antibiotics, must be taken until you finish the course. Ask your doctor what you’re supposed to do. Follow the directions so your treatment can work.

Talk to Your Doctor

You’ve heard this many times. Your doctor’s job is to help you feel better, and you should feel free to talk to them about any worries and questions. Leave informed.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on February 03, 2019



American Medical Association EdHub: “Medication Adherence: Improve the health of your patients and reduce overall health-care costs.”

NPS MedicineWise (Australia): “Questions to ask your doctor about all medicines.”

MedlinePlus: “Taking Medicines: What to ask your doctor.” “Get Financial Help With Purchasing Medicine.”

National Health Service (UK): “Types of Medicines,” “Problems Swallowing Pills.”

Mayo Clinic Proceedings: “Medication Adherence: WHO Cares?”

Harvard Health Publishing: “A Spoonful of Motivation Helps The Medicine Go Down.”

FPM: “Practical Ways to Improve Medication Adherence.”

FDA: “Be An Active Member of Your Healthcare Team,” “Generic Drugs: Questions & Answers.”

JAMA: “Fixed Low-Dose Triple Combination Antihypertensive Medication vs Usual Care for Blood Pressure Control in Patients With Mild to Moderate Hypertension in Sri Lanka.”

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