Burdensome cost sharing is linked with a 70% increase in the risk of discontinuing Gleevec,Tasigna or Sprycel among patients with chronic myeloid leukemia and a 42% increased risk of inadequate adherence, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. In addition higher prescription co-payments were associated with both nonpersistence and nonadherence to aromatase inhibitors. This relationship was stronger in older women. Because noncompliance is associated with worse outcomes, future policy efforts should be directed toward interventions that would help patients with financial difficulties obtain life-saving medications.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology Medication says “nonadherence is an enormous public health challenge with important clinical consequences. It has been estimated that up to half of chronic disease medications are not taken as prescribed, and 20% to 30% of prescription medications are never filled. Estimates for the costs of medication nonadherence exceed $100 billion annually, due to increased health services utilization, hospital admission, and adverse drug events associated with nonadherence. The clinical consequences of nonadherence to cancer therapy are also well described.”
How many product websites have content dedicated to adherence? The answer is not many. There is an opportunity for DTC marketers to deliver meaningful content on the importance of staying on your medication but more importantly drug companies have to make it easier for patients to afford their medications, especially high cost cancer medications.
Now is the time to review the qualifications for Rx drug assistance. What is the minimum income for patients to receive assistance in today’s economy? Can drug makers work with insurers to ensure patients are staying compliant? How about a call from a nurse to answer questions about the medication and ensure patients can afford them?
Adherence is not a drug makers problem, it’s a health problem as non-adherence can cost us billions in health care costs.
While there are a lot of reasons for non-adherence we need to better understand them and work with others to ensure patients can afford their medications.