Tips For Keeping Up with Your Medications

Sponsored by CenterWell Specialty Pharmacy

Woman Getting Infusion

15 Jun 2023 | ~5:47 Engagement Time


Kathy Costello , Nurse Practitioner

Living with multiple sclerosis requires a multifaceted approach to care that often includes medication as an essential component of treatment. Following your prescribed medication regimen is crucial for maintaining your overall well-being. While a medication may be effective, adherence is a key factor associated with its effectiveness.

Surprisingly, studies reveal that adherence to medications, including those for MS, hovers at around 50%. Several factors can pose challenges to sticking with prescribed medication regimens ranging from limited decision-making involvement to financial constraints. However, by understanding the significance of staying on track with your medications, you can maximize the benefits of your treatment and achieve a better quality of life while managing MS.

Challenges With Medication Adherence

  • Understanding: Sometimes, it’s tough to feel motivated if you don’t completely or accurately understand the purpose, administration, and side effects of your medication. 
  • Cost: High coinsurance or copays can make it difficult for some people to use medication regularly. 
  • Medication administration: How the medication is administeredmultiple doses/day, taking with/without food, self-injectionmay be confusing or overwhelming. 
  • Shared decision-making: When you, the person with multiple sclerosis (MS), have little to no involvement in the decision-making process for your medication, you may be less likely to stick with your treatment plan. 
  • Poor communication: If your doctor, nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant, or other healthcare provider offers a limited explanation of the purpose, side effects, and side effect management, you might feel confused or reluctant to take your medication.  
  • Access: If it’s hard to get in touch with your provider who prescribed the medication, you might be left with unanswered questions or concerns

6 Tips for Sticking To Your Medication Schedule

“It might feel like successful adherence is blocked from every direction. Yet, it is not a secret that taking a medication as prescribed is the only way that it will work. Thankfully, there are several actions you can take that will help you keep up with your medications”, says Megan Winebrenner, PharmD, CSP, clinical pharmacy lead at CenterWell Specialty Pharmacy™. 

Here are six tips that can help you with adherence: 

1. Become knowledgeable about your condition and the medications used for treatment.  

Check out credible websites like Can Do MS, MSAA, or the National MS Society for unbiased and clear information. Also, ask your healthcare provider lots of questions and be sure that all of them are answered. This will help you be an active participant in the treatment decision-making process. Here are a few questions to get you started. 

  • What is being treated b this medication? 
  • What is reasonable to expect from the treatment? For example, will your symptoms go away if you take the medication? 
  • What are your options? Is this the only medication or treatment available?  
  • What are the side effects – and if you have any, what should you do? 
  • Will you be on this medication forever? 
  • Are there any long-term risks that you need to know about? What is being done to limit or identify risks?
  • Is this medication safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding? 

2. Find out more about your insurance coverage and financial assistance programs. 

Here are a few insurance questions you can ask.

  • Is the drug on the formulary? (You may also want to ask what list of medications the insurer covers). 
  • If the drug is infused into a vein, is it covered under your prescription or medical benefit?  
  • What will your out-of-pocket cost be? 
  • What is the process to get approval for the drug? What do you need to do and what does your doctor need to do? 
  • Is there a deductible that you must meet before your insurance starts to pay—meaning is there an amount that you are responsible for paying each year before your insurance starts to pay? Typically, this is $500 – $3000 for an individual. 
  • What other medications are covered if the one you and your doctor chose is not on the formulary? 
  • If the drug is on the formulary, but coverage is denied, why was it denied and is there an appeal process? 
  • Are any financial assistance programs available through an organization, agency, or the drug manufacturer themselves? 

3. Ask your pharmacist questions.

When it comes to your MS disease-modifying therapies (DMT), you might find a specialty pharmacy with great team members and resources. They can help you learn more about your medication, how to manage side effects, and how to access drug-cost assistance. Here are a few questions for your pharmacist.

  • Is this medication ok to take with my other medications? (We recommend you have a list ready to share, including supplements, over-the-counter medications, or vitamins). 
  • What should you do if a pill, shot, or infusion is missed? 
  • If you take a pill, do you take it with or without food? 
  • How should you store the medication? 

4. Use reminders to help you take your medication on time.

  • Try using your smartphone, a watch alarm, or a calendar. 
  • For infusion appointments, make sure it’s marked on your calendar. That might be a paper calendar at home or a digital one with all of your appointments. 
  • Try a weekly pill case.  
  • Keep medications in a safe but easily visible and accessible location, like near your toothbrush. 
  • Ask a family member to help you remember your medication schedule. 
  • Consider modern technology, like an app, Bluetooth pillbox, or automated pill dispenser.  

5. Reach out if you need help.

Contact your healthcare provider (HCP) or pharmacist with questions – even if you have already asked them. It is easy to forget or misplace notes, so go ahead and ask again.

6. Be honest.

If you do not believe you can take a medication, let your HCP know. For example, if you cannot take any time off from your job, an infusion that requires several hours may not work for you. Or if you know that a self-injected medication will be very challenging for you, say something. Let your provider know what you are looking for – what are your goals for the medication and what is important to you. Having your goals, values, and preferences considered will help you adhere to your medication.

If you start the medication and have difficulty taking it, notify your HCP immediately. If side effects are interfering with your daily life, contact your HCP, but also consider a specialty pharmacy like CenterWell Specialty Pharmacy, which has pharmacists and nurses available to help with side-effect management and more. 

Remember, your entire healthcare team is here to help you with your MS and the medications involved,Winebrenner says. By asking for help and finding creative solutions, you can make medication adherence a manageable part of your life. 

The 2023 articles are possible thanks to the generous support of the following sponsors:

Over the past four decades, Biogen has been committed to translating science to meaningful advances for the MS community. Our industry-leading portfolio — backed by established safety and efficacy profiles, ongoing investment in our products, as well as our comprehensive services and solutions — enables us to offer a broad range of options to meet the ever-evolving needs of MS patients and drive greater individualized disease management.

Biogen's Patient Resources:

EMD Serono’s experience and scientific discoveries in MS date back more than 20 years. They have an ongoing commitment to improving the entire patient experience. To this end, they offer delivery devices for their therapeutic products as well as comprehensive patient education resources. It is the people living with MS or those who will be diagnosed with MS, their caregivers and healthcare providers who have been their catalyst and inspiration to continue innovating, collaborating and advocating.

EMD Serono's Patient Resources:

Built on patient insights and cutting-edge science and technology, Sanofi is determined to help people living with neurological disorders by developing new treatment options and advancing patient care. With 18 years’ commitment in multiple sclerosis (MS), Sanofi has relentlessly worked to improve the lives of the 2.3 million people worldwide living with this serious, life-long neuro-degenerative disease. Since the launch of its portfolio in 2012, Sanofi has rapidly emerged as a leader in MS, bringing two therapies to patients in more than 80 countries worldwide. There is significant work left to be done, and Sanofi is committed to accelerating the development of potential treatments for MS, amyotrophic later sclerosis, and other neurological diseases.

Sanofi's Patient Resources:

Genentech is a biotechnology company dedicated to pursuing groundbreaking science to discover and develop medicines for people with serious and life-threatening diseases. Our transformational discoveries include the first targeted antibody for cancer and the first medicine for primary progressive multiple sclerosis.

Genentech's Patient Resources:


This material is provided for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. Links to various other websites from this site are provided for your convenience only. Can Do MS disclaims responsibility for their content and accuracy.