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Nearly 40% of British Columbians not taking their medications correctly: poll

Introduction of legal cannabis could cause more issues for drug interactions

Almost 40 per cent of British Columbians aren’t taking their medications properly, a poll commissioned by London Drugs suggests.

The poll, which was released Monday by Insights West, found that 38 per cent of the province’s residents don’t take their meds correctly. The survey found 25 per cent take less than prescribed or don’t fill prescriptions their doctors give them, 20 per cent stop taking them before they’re supposed to and 19 per cent make changes to dosage, size, or frequency without consulting a healthcare professional.

London Drugs pharmacist Michael Athanassakis says there’s many reasons why patients don’t take their medication properly.

“Either intentional or unwitting failure to take medications as prescribed decreases the effectiveness of treatment and endangers patient health,” said Athanassakis.

“There are several factors that contribute to the improper use of medications, including forgetfulness, inconvenience, and a lack of understanding about how to take medications properly.”

Pollsters found that 21 per cent of British Columbians who don’t take their medications properly do so because they forget. Another 10 per cent say they don’t take them because they don’t know why they’ve been prescribed their meds, while another eight per cent say they’re too overwhelmed by all the medications they have to take.

The recent legalization of cannabis has led to more issues, Athanassakis said, since it can interact poorly with prescribed drugs.

“Cannabis can impact the way certain drugs are metabolized, and no scientifically defined dosage of cannabis has been established for any medical condition,” said Athanassakis.

“So, it’s important to get expert advice to determine if it is right for you and determine the most suitable amount, strain, and method of use.”

Although 41 per cent of those surveyed said they knew to ask pharmacists about how to safely use cannabis, only six per cent actually did ask.

READ MORE: Average price of cannabis in Canada goes up 17% post-legalization

READ MORE: 731,000 Canadians going into debt to buy prescription drugs, says UBC study


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