Adherence to Acne Medication Hindered by Costs


Discussing the costs of acne medications and having a plan of action for patients who are unable to fill a prescription due to prices might improve adherence, according to a recent study.

In the study, the researchers screened 385 participants at 4 dermatology practices in the Philadelphia area for primary nonadherence to newly prescribed acne medications. Twenty-six participants (73% women) completed structured interviews, which were conducted between November 30, 2016 and January 31, 2017.
Acne Inflates Depression Risk by 63%
Does Acne Influence Teens' Social Media Use?
The researchers analyzed the interview transcripts to detect common themes and divergent ideas that focused on modifiable physician-level that could improve adherence to acne medications.

They found that the cost of medications was the main reason participants did not initiate therapy. While participants were aware of this barrier, they rarely discussed costs with physicians during their visit and did not expect physicians to be knowledgeable about this area. Despite patients-reported experiences of frustration and inconvenience when unable to fill a prescription, these experiences did not appear to negatively affect their satisfaction with their physician.

The researchers identified 3 actions physicians could take to improve adherence:

  • Warn patients about the cost of a medication
  • Have a plan of action if a patient is unable to fill a prescription
  • Secure a patient’s commitment to this plan of action

“Physicians must be cognizant that cost (including copays and prior authorizations) is a barrier for patients to receive acne medications,” the researchers concluded. “…[P]hysicians who discuss medication costs and provide a concrete alternative plan may be able to improve primary adherence among their patients.”

—Melissa Weiss


Ryskina KL, Goldberg E, Lott B, Hermann D, Barbieri JS, Lipoff JB. The role of the physician in patient perceptions of barriers to primary adherence with acne medications [published online February 28, 2018]. JAMA Dermatol. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2017.6144.