One out of four samples collected from patients with serious mental illness (SMI) did not contain the prescribed antipsychotic medication, according to clinical research from Ameritox's Ingenuity Health, a Baltimore, Md.-based provider of monitoring solutions to behavioral health clinicians. Coupled with nearly 40% of samples testing positive for illicit drugs or non-prescribed medications, the study illustrates the pervasiveness of medication nonadherence among those with SMI and highlights the potential barriers to long-term health and public safety.
Overall, 34.1% of samples tested positive for illicit drugs/non-prescribed meds, including cocaine, marijuana (THC) or non-prescribed prescription painkillers. In addition to a higher incidence of drug abuse, independent research shows hospital stays and incarceration are far more frequent among those with SMI who are nonadherent to their medication.
"Medication nonadherence is the single greatest roadblock to improved health and higher quality of life for those with serious mental illness, and our research shows nonadherence is far too common," said Mike DeGeorge, director of medical affairs for Ingenuity Health and Ameritox.
The study makes the case for medication monitoring among those with SMI to help identify nonadherence and its consequences. "Nonadherence can be avoided with the help of monitoring—the ability to gain real insight into whether our patients are taking their medications correctly is a game-changer," said Dr. Robert Millet, of Carolina Behavioral Care, one of the authors of the study.
The study, conducted using samples from those with SMI taken over a period of more than a year, is Ingenuity Health's most extensive analysis based on patient samples collected using urine drug testing.