Patients who don't take their medication as prescribed is a billion-dollar problem, reports pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts in its 2011 Drug Trend Report. Nonadherence to prescription medication cost the U.S. health care system $317.4 billion in 2011. And that's just for treating medical complications - not the cost of lost productivity - that could have been avoided if patients had taken their medication as prescribed. The report shows that for many therapy classes, less than 50% of patients take their medication as prescribed.

"If you think about nonadherence as a $317 billion condition, it becomes the most expensive condition out there in the United States," says Sharon Frazee, vice president of research and analysis with Express Scripts.

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