Acne sufferers have another problem to go with their troubled skin. According to a new study, add a troubled memory to the list. Many acne patients fail to take all of the prescribed medications, and some even forget to fill the prescriptions.

A research team out of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center surveyed 143 acne patients. The team found 27 percent of the patients either did not use all of the prescribed medication, or failed to have the prescriptions filled.

The medications included both prescriptions from their dermatologists and recommended over-the-counter products.

Dr. Steve Feldman, lead author and professor of dermatology at Wake Forest, released a statement on the findings. “Non-adherence is a pervasive problem in all of medicine, particularly when treating chronic conditions such as acne.”

“A previous study reported a 10 percent primary non-adherence rate for acne patients, so we were surprised that what we found was more than twice that,” Feldman added.

Published in the latest issue of JAMA Dermatology, the research team found the more prescriptions, the less likely a patient was to adhere to the treatment protocol. Patients with two prescribed medications were 40 percent less likely to not use or fill the medications.

Those with three or more medications were 31 percent less likely to follow through. Giving a patient one? The number dropped to 9 percent, more in-line with previous research.

“The study showed that patients are more inclined to follow the treatment regimen when only one medication is prescribed,” Feldman said. “Multiple agents are typically required to address the multiple factors that cause acne, but simplifying treatment regimens by prescribing products that contain two or more active ingredients could prove effective in reducing non-adherence.”

Acne Creams or Pills

Researchers found the type of medication correlated with adhering to the treatments prescribed. Topical lotions or creams were less likely to be filled than pills. Prescription drugs were more likely to be picked up than over-the-counter products. As for prescriptions? Electronic beat out paper prescriptions for patients filling them at their pharmacy.

The reasons for the patients not following through varied. Researchers found that patients complained of high costs of prescriptions, forgetfulness, not agreeing with the treatment and already having similar medications.

Health insurance providers do place higher costs on prescriptions for skin-related issues. Plus, pharmaceutical companies see the business as a cash cow. It’s easy to reformulate and push a brand over a generic.

How to Treat Acne

If the over-the-counter treatments do no work, you can often go to your primary care doctor. I did as a teen, as it was quicker than a dermatology appointment. Still, if it’s an issue that concerns you, a dermatologist is the way to go.



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