40% of patients don't take medicine as told: Study

Many patients who suffer from acid reflux may complain that their medicine does not work. But this could be because they fail to pop the pills as instructed, a local study has found.

Conducted by the Gastroenterological Society of Singapore (GESS) between last December and last month, the study showed that 40 per cent of the 202 patients surveyed did not take their medicine around meal times, as instructed.

And out of this 40 per cent, close to half said they were too busy to keep to the timings.

These numbers helped shed light on the habits of patients with acid reflux, which doctors do not always have the luxury to delve into during consultations, said GESS president Ang Tiing Leong.

Dr Ang, who heads the gastroenterology department at Changi General Hospital (CGH), added that the results helped to explain why prescribed medication sometimes fails to alleviate discomfort.


As the prescribed drugs have a 90 per cent efficacy, patients should ideally become well, he said.

The irregular consumption of medicine may mean that patients have to deal with a burning sensation or a sour taste in the mouth for prolonged periods.

In most cases, this will result in an altered quality of life, like sleep disruption, said Dr Daphne Ang, the study's chief investigator and a consultant gastroenterologist at CGH,

Five to 10 per cent of these cases will result in strictures, the narrowing of the gut due to healed scar tissues. This may then result in food getting stuck in the gut, she said.

Only 0.1 per cent of these patients end up with cancer, Dr Ang added.