One in three people would consider choosing a less-effective drug if the prescription costs less, according to new research by University of Hawai’i school of medicine professor Dr. Chien-Wen Tseng.

Published in this month’s medical journal The Archives of Internal Medicine, Dr. Tseng’s startling findings underscore how important affordability is to patients, and how much they want to know about the cost and effectiveness of drugs they are prescribed.

The article, headlined “Patients’ Willingness to Discuss Trade-offs to Lower Their Out-of-pocket Drug Costs”, summarizes Dr. Tseng’s study of 5,085 people with diabetes in 10 health plans (including two health plans in Hawai’i). One in three patients wanted their physicians to tell them about less expensive drugs even if these drugs may have a slightly higher chance of side effects or may not work as well. More than half of patients said they would want to know about lower cost drugs that would have to be taken more often.

“We already know that patients often stop, skip, or do not start drugs because of cost,” Dr. Tseng said. “Physicians may be reluctant to discuss drug costs with patients because they are uncertain whether patients want such discussions about cost or trade-offs. But our study clearly shows that patients are interested in such discussions, even if they could involve compromises to reduce drug costs.”

Dr. Tseng says doctors need to talk with patients about drug costs and advise patients on whether such trade-offs are clinically appropriate for each person.

Dr. Tseng is Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa John A. Burns School of Medicine. She also is Investigator for the Pacific Health Research Education Institute (PHREI) and VA Pacific Islands Health Care System. Dr. Tseng provides lists prices of drugs for physicians to consult on the web at: www.PrescribingGuide.com

Submitted by UH Medical School

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