Feelings Outweigh Facts - Pharmaceutical Executive


Feelings Outweigh Facts
Your new drug works? Patients don't care how. They want to know what it means in their lives.

Pharmaceutical Executive

Frequency of Cholesterol-Lowering Products Association
3. Treatment decision risk Consumers' perceptions of treatment decision risks are very important when deciding whether to continue their prescription, since this is where the emotional impact strikes. This evaluation accounts for more than one-third (37 percent) of the difference between consumers who continue and consumers who don't continue their prescriptions.

The decisions risks fall under three categories: Social, emotional, and financial. For patients, the social risks include both the positive ("They'll think I'm smart for taking care of myself") and negative ("They'll think I'm weak because I need medicine") effects of taking a particular medication.

Among emotional risks are the effects on a patient's self-image of perfect health. When filling a new prescription, emotions may range from the positive ("I'm helping myself get better") to the negative ("Now something else is wrong with me").

Patients also consider the financial cost of drugs they need, although this is a minor component of decision risk for most insured consumers.

4. Direct product experience Experience with a specific product contributes 24 percent to consumers' decisions when evaluating whether to continue with therapy. Consumers who believe their drug contributes to a better quality of life are more likely to take it regularly. That is, they miss no more than one dose per week.

Paying the Price for Expectations

What Contributes To Consumers Rx Valuation
One of the most surprising findings is the minimal effect of co-pays on consumer decisions. What matters is not the amount of the copay, but the patient's expectation. When pharmacists request a co-pay amount that coincides with the consumer's expectations, only five percent discontinue therapy, even with co-pays as high as $85. However, when consumers encounter unexpectedly high co-pays, twice as many patients (10 percent) end up not filling the prescription.

When measuring perceptions of their prescription's value, the study showed that consumers who are willing to pay high prices for a medication (the "willing-to-pay maximums") see more value in a drug than consumers who are willing to pay only low co-pays. On average, consumers are willing to pay more than their current co-pays for medications, indicating that most consumers receive more value from their prescriptions than they curently pay for. In short, products that help people to forget they are patients are worth more to them.

"Co-pay Surprises"

When a patient goes to the pharmacy to fill a prescription, he or she will encounter a higher than expected co-pay, or "co-pay surprise," nearly 13 percent of the time. Eleven percent of those will fill the prescription. Conversely, of the 87 percent of patients who encounter the expected co-pay or a lower one, 86 percent fill the prescription.

Average Consumer Copays and Willing-to-Pay Maximums by Category*
The growing prevalence of the three-tier health plan makes for more co-pay surprises, which means patients will be on the lookout for alternatives. This group, known as "cost switchers," are more likely to believe that an alternative therapy is better than their current one.


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