Direct-Ship-to-Patient Drug Sampling and Telemedicine

April 1, 2021
Hal Walsh, Brand Insights Contributor, CEO of SymmetryRx
Hal Walsh, Brand Insights Contributor, CEO of SymmetryRx

Hal Walsh currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of SymmetryRx, LLC. As CEO, Hal provides vision, strategy, leadership, and resources to build web-based solutions to increase the reach of pharmaceutical manufacturers to healthcare providers and their patients.

Brand Insights - Thought Leadership | Paid Program

Outlining the benefits and opportunities of this approach for patient and physician interactions

The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting and fast-tracking advancements in our healthcare system. One notable area of interest is the rise of telemedicine, which has dramatically shifted the perception of care delivery. This increasingly useful way to manage patient encounters also brings to light the possibility of direct-ship-to-patient (DSTP) drug sampling.

If physicians can now prescribe medication via a telemedicine visit, it also makes sense to streamline the care process even further by allowing patients to receive drug samples directly to their door. The FDA is allowing this level of service to patients for a limited time as we continue to face the pandemic. DSTP drug sampling opens the door for streamlining the drug sample supply chain and automating regulatory compliance while supporting higher levels of patient medication adherence.

Once the benefit of DSTP drug sampling is seen during this initial phase, the demand and need for it will continue to grow, creating the real possibility for it to become a permanent offering for patients. Our research shows that before COVID-19, 27% of healthcare providers (HCPs) had some level of daily telemedicine patient encounters. During the pandemic, that number has grown to 85% of HCPs and is expected to be 74% post-COVID-19.

The importance of drug sampling has not changed. Drug samples are widely understood to:

  • Provide valuable information about patient response to a new therapy.
  • Increase patient compliance; 30% of patients only fill a new Rx (NRx) when provided a sample, regardless of their age, income, or gender.
  • Enable patients to initiate treatment sooner.
  • Increase patient satisfaction with the “care” experience.

Starting treatment sooner and saving patients money were the top benefits of drug sampling reported by 197 prescribers in a recent survey of SymmetryRx’s SampleCenterTM users. That is easy to understand with 40% of Americans reporting prescription cost issues and the understandable patient anxiety that can come with addressing a previously undiagnosed or untreated condition.

But what is it about sampling that drives medication adherence? We can think of several reasons to explain the reality, but increasingly we believe that patient/prescriber concordance—the extent to which patients and their providers agree on whether, when, and how a medication should be taken—happens for the 30% of patients, who otherwise would not fill their prescription, during the sample discussion. DSTP drug sampling in the context of telemedicine affords a similar experience and opportunity for the patient and prescriber to engage in the subject of the patient’s well-being.

Key considerations for direct-ship-to-patient drug sampling

Based on the responses to our DSTP drug sampling survey from prescribers using our SampleCenterTM online sample request system, we found a great deal of interest in DSTP drug sampling. Of the prescribers surveyed, 70% of respondents had moderate-to-high interest and 30% expressed the very highest level of interest. Furthermore, 71% of surveyed prescribers believed that DSTP should become permanent once the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided.

The dramatic shift of the care setting to online telemedicine requires a change in how drug samples are delivered: DSTP. SymmetryRx has the answers to get drug samples where needed through a secure and HIPAA-compliant process. Our system design requires pharma manufacturers to implement readily available/commonly used data security tools for sample request form access. Additionally, SymmetryRx’s direct-ship-to-patient sample request process design incorporates a 100% electronic transaction based on SymmetryRx’s innovative PDMA and 21 CFR Part 11 compliant eSignature process.

It takes a few months to contract and set up the DSTP service, so start today as you plan to serve prescribers and patients in 2021. Reach farther.