The authors of the study, which was published in the Journal of Rheumatology, collected data on 3,932 patients (roughly 90 percent women) from a two million member Israeli health maintenance organization. Medications for treating fibromyalgia were prescribed for 1,620 patients in the year before they were diagnosed; another 1,296 patients were prescribed fibromyalgia drugs in the year after diagnosis. The remainder were not given prescriptions either before or after diagnosis.
The researchers found that about 80 percent of the patients newly prescribed after being diagnosed filled their prescription within a year. But it turned out that about 79 percent of those who filled their prescription stopped using their therapy within a year after filling that prescription. Only about one out of five fibromyalgia patients kept taking any fibromyalgia medications after one year. Subjects of a higher socioeconomic status were more likely to keep using their medications.
The study did not draw firm conclusions on why drug adherence was so low, but they speculated that three factors were key: the high cost of the medications, the patients’ belief that they were ineffective, and the drugs were difficult to tolerate. Because the study was written for physicians, its conclusions were aimed at them, and they recommended that fibromyalgia patients be “monitored closely” for drug adherence and that doctors should give them “education and encouragement.”