Pharma Patient Adherence – What’s the Issue?

Medication adherence is a major problem for patients.  Why? Over three billion prescriptions are issued in the United States and less than 12% are never picked up.  More problematic is that 40% are not taken correctly*. Patient non adherence to medication has resulted  33% to 69% of medication related hospital admissions and 23% of all nursing home admissions. This is creating quality of life issues that people are coping with and not seeking adequate solutions.

What is causing this problem?

This lack of adherence is complicated by the  economic challenges faced by the elderly patients in this county and the increasing financial burden of medication.  It is also created by the revolving door in physicians offices.  Financially physicians are forced to adhere to a “get um in and get um out” mentality to ensure their practices are financial viable. This results in a patient who is not only dazed and confused by the prognosis they just received but sent spiraling on an emotional roller coaster because they are sent on their way not fully informed.

It’s clear that adherence programs are not only an opportunity for Pharmaceutical marketers to sell more drugs, but to make a difference in the health of many patients and reduce healthcare costs. Pharmaceutical companies have created varying levels of relationship marketing programs for patients from simple medication reminders to complex programs that engage patients in a two-way conversation.

By offering relationship marketing programs that truly meet the needs of patients, (not just a one-size fits all program). Delivering personalized content that helps the patient build the appropriate health management skills can be very successful.  There are numerous primary and secondary studies that have validated the positive impact relationship marketing programs.

So What’s the Issue?

Time and experience.  Pharma is a product centric industry, in its adherence infancy.  To expect the industry to run before it’s learned to walk is short-sighted and a recipe for failure.  Only time and experience, in my humble opinion, will resolve this issue.  As Pharma evolves and grows from it’s adherence marketing efforts, patient health outcomes will improve and patients quality of life will improve.  So What’s the Issue?

*Non-Profit Center for Technology and Aging, “Technologies for Optimizing Medication Use in Older Adults”.