The Problem with Teens and Medication

Vikas DharnidharkaSkipping doses of medicine or taking it at the wrong times can worsen a patient’s condition and lead to costly complications — even organ rejection in patients who have undergone a kidney transplant.

A consortium of researchers in the United States and Canada, including at the University of Florida, has received a $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to test techniques that may increase medication adherence in perhaps the most challenging population of patients:teenagers.

“Newer medicines and technologies have improved the lives of people with illness. But such improvements have much less of an effect if patients don’t take their medicines on time or use the technologies appropriately,” said Vikas Dharnidharka, M.D., division chief of nephrology in the UF College of Medicine department of pediatrics and one of the study’s investigators. “Teenagers who have chronic diseases really struggle with being adherent.”

As part of the five-year grant, researchers will study whether a menu of techniques, including a high-tech pillbox, will improve how well adolescent kidney transplant patients stick to their medication regimens.