Medication adherence rates in U.S. unaffected by interventions according to new article led by FDA and National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention

National Forum

January 23, 2017

Authors find non-adherence remains major driver for no. 1 killer of Americans – cardiovascular disease

People not taking prescribed medications is a major reason that heart disease and stroke persist as the leading cause of death, according to a new Journal of the American College of Cardiology report. The authors found that no single intervention has substantially altered medication adherence rates in the United States, and called for collaborative research to improve medication adherence among cardiovascular disease patients.    

“Despite continued progress over the last several decades, cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States. One factor blocking greater progress in curtailing it is that only about 50 percent of patients with serious, chronic cardiovascular disease regularly take their life-saving medications long-term,” said Dr. Keith C. Ferdinand, lead author of the report and professor of medicine at the Tulane University School of Medicine.

The article, Improving Medication Adherence in Cardiometabolic Disease: Practical and Regulatory Implications, stems from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Enhanced Medication Adherence Strategies Initiative (EASi), which supports the Million Hearts® initiative to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes in five years. The FDA signed a first-of-its-kind memorandum of understanding with the National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention to engage public-private collaborators in EASi.  Joining Dr. Ferdinand as report authors are then-FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert M. Califf and subject matter experts from the FDA, the National Forum, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, CryerHealth, and the Cardiovascular Research Foundation.

Through their state of the art review, the report’s authors identified four research areas that could reduce the burden caused by non-adherence among Americans: 1) identifying methods for monitoring adherence; 2) improving the evidence base to better understand adherence; 3) developing patient/health provider team-based engagement strategies; and 4) alleviating health disparities.

“Today, 27.6 million Americans have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. We need to understand how to improve cardiovascular patients’ adherence to medications if we are to improve health outcomes in the U.S.,” said John M. Clymer, executive director of the National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention. “It’s no secret that the health community needs to work together to improve patient outcomes. The EASi collaboration report provides us with a path forward.”

To read the full state of the art review in Journal of the American College of Cardiology, view Improving Medication Adherence in Cardiometabolic Disease: Practical and Regulatory Implications.

For more information, contact Jen Childress, (515) 422-4498 or