ERIE, Pa. — For the ninth-consecutive year, students with the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) School of Pharmacy have received national recognition for their efforts in promoting public awareness about medication adherence.
The LECOM School of Pharmacy is the recipient of the 2020 Media/Communications Outreach Award as part of this year’s Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge. The competition, coordinated annually by the National Consumers League (NCL), is a two-month intercollegiate contest that engages health profession student teams and faculty across the U.S. in raising public awareness about medication adherence as a critical public health issue.
Earlier this year, LECOM pharmacy students at LECOM’s campuses in Erie and Bradenton, Florida, worked with their medical and dental school counterparts to launch LECOM’s 2020 Script Your Future campaign. From mid-January through early March, students participated in a full slate of health fairs, offered health screenings, organized outreach events at local schools, fitness centers and senior communities, and distributed information on the importance of taking prescriptions as directed.
As part of the campaign, students released a video promoting the benefits of proper medication adherence as well as their lifelong commitment to being advocates of accurate prescription drug usage. Recorded in eight different languages, the video’s multilingual approach highlights LECOM’s continuous efforts for inclusivity as well as the students’ intention to reach a broad audience. Additionally, students produced a book, “Mr. Pumper and the Heart Valves,” to teach children basic information about the heart and the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.
Through this campaign, 293 LECOM students and volunteers directly counseled more than 500 patients and distributed more than 730 Script Your Future resources in their communities. These outreach efforts were formally acknowledged when Erie Mayor Joe Schember declared March 8-14, 2020, as “LECOM School of Pharmacy Week” in Erie.
LECOM pharmacy students and their medical and dental school colleagues have participated in the Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge since its inception in 2011. Each year, LECOM has ranked among the top pharmacy schools in the country, garnering National Challenge Awards in 2012 and 2014 and recognition as a National Award finalist six times. In 2014, LECOM students earned the Creative Inter-professional Team Event Award, and in 2018 they received the Health Disparities/Under-Represented Community Outreach Award for their extensive efforts to reach pediatric, elderly and homeless populations in both Erie and Manatee (Florida) counties. In addition to winning the 2020 Media/Communications Outreach Award, LECOM students also earned runner-up status in the Creative Interprofessional Team Event Focused Award.
“I am in awe that our students have once again been recognized for their extraordinary efforts in educating the public about the importance of adhering to medication regimens,” said LECOM Vice President for Academic Affairs Hershey Bell, M.D. “The nationwide Script Your Future initiative has placed medication adherence at the forefront of disease management and this competition has reiterated that our students are national leaders and experts in this effort.”
This year 2,892 students and volunteers from 82 schools participated in the Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge, reaching an estimated 430,871 consumers. Since the competition began in 2011, more than 21,000 future healthcare professionals have directly counseled nearly 87,000 patients and reached close to 26 million consumers.
Statistics show that 1 out of 5 prescriptions go unfilled, and half of patients with a chronic illness fail to take medications as prescribed. When patients use their medications as recommended, they can see success and better health outcomes. Skipping or not using medications as directed, however, can have serious consequences. More than a third of medication-related hospitalizations are because a patient did not take medication as prescribed, and at least 125,000 U.S. deaths are attributed to non-adherence each year. From a financial standpoint, non-compliance translates to as much as $300 billion annually in additional costs for doctor appointments, emergency room visits, hospital admissions and additional medicine.