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Health Matters

March 24, 2014
Should You Ever Stop Taking Your Medicine?

Stop SIgnYour doctor put you on medication to treat your heart condition, asthma, diabetes, or depression. Things have gone well, you’ve made some changes to your lifestyle, and you’re feeling fantastic.

Eyeing your pill bottle or your inhaler, you can’t help but wonder, “Can I stop taking my medication?” The medication no longer seems necessary, and you could use that money on something else. Before you make any decisions, however, you need to speak with the doctor who prescribed your medication.

 

Why Should I Speak to My Doctor?

The reality is that in many cases, stopping your medication and even tapering off without the supervision of a doctor is a dangerous thing to do. Stopping a blood pressure medication, for instance, could cause your blood pressure to rise dangerously high. Quitting a diabetes medication can cause your blood sugar levels to spiral out of control. And quitting a medication for depression will likely cause your symptoms to return. Before you know it, you may be right back where you started – or even worse off.

 

The Consequences of Poor Compliance

When a patient doesn’t take their medication as directed, doctors and pharmacists refer to this as a problem with compliance. Noncompliance has serious consequences for patients and is one of the top reasons for trips to the emergency room.

For example, stopping Advair, an inhaled medication that is used to prevent asthma attacks, can cause asthma symptoms to flare, leading to difficulty breathing. In the end, that trip to the ER because your asthma is out of control costs considerably more than filling your prescription would have! In patients with diabetes, noncompliance can lead to serious consequences such as permanent nerve damage and kidney failure, which can eventually lead to death.

 

But My Medication Is So Expensive!

Patients stop taking their medications for a number of reasons. Some simply forget while others are concerned about overmedication or side effects.

If you tend to forget your medications, talk to a doctor or pharmacist about different products designed to improve compliance, such as pill bottles with alarms that will light up or even text you when it’s time to take your medication.

If you’re concerned about the number of medications you are taking or the side effects of the medication, or if you feel you no longer need your medication, have a conversation with your doctor or pharmacist. Perhaps a combination medication will be right for you or a different medication altogether. And maybe your doctor will agree that the medication is no longer needed, especially if you’ve made significant lifestyle changes, and will work with you to help you safely taper off the drug.

Expensive medication is an ongoing problem and one that may feel more difficult to solve. But there are options. Talk to your doctor about whether a generic drug is available and check with the drug manufacturer for coupons.

Another safe option to cut your prescription drug costs is to order them online through an accredited online Canadian pharmacy. Online pharmacies accredited through the Canadian International Pharmacists Association (CIPA), like The Canadian Pharmacy, can save you a great deal of money without compromising the safety and security of your medication.

 

The Bottom Line

Before you ever make any kind of change to your medication regimen, talk to your doctor. Medications affect your body in a number of ways, and stopping them can have drastic consequences.

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