Industry programs encourage prescription compliance

Pharmaceutical Representative

Two industry leaders recently launched programs to improve patient compliance and persistence with their medications.

Two industry leaders recently launched programs to improve patient compliance and persistence with their medications.

Hoescht Marion Roussel and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America are independently tackling a problem that costs the pharmaceutical industry billions of dollars each year.

Pharmacy initiative

Patient Health First,™ a program developed by Hoescht Marion Roussel, Kansas City, MO, will be administered through pharmacy organizations around the country. Participating stores will be reimbursed quarterly for improved patient persistency of Cardizem and Altace, two of the company's products. Each store's reported results will be monitored by an independent information solutions company and measured against its own baseline, not a national average.

The program is Hoescht Marion Roussel's first pharmacy initiative concentrating on patient compliance and persistency rather than market share.

"If every patient took their medication as prescribed by their physician, the estimated annual savings to the health care industry would be $100 billion," said David Pickhardt, director of Healthcare Systems Marketing at Hoescht Marion Roussel in the United States. "Last year in the United States, we lost more money on non-compliance than we spent on medications."

To help pharmacists succeed in the program, Hoescht Marion Roussel will supply patient refill reminder letters; compliance and persistency fact cards; form letters for patients who have missed their prescription refill deadlines; brochures that help patients chart their blood pressure, cholesterol levels and medication use; and a quarterly newsletter that focuses on diet, exercise and drug therapy. All of these items are meant to be mailed or handed to pharmacy customers.

"This initiative is in response to feedback from pharmacists indicating that programs with pharmacy should focus more on the long-term goal of improved patient health and compliance rather than on the short-term goal of increased market share," Pickhardt said.

Guide to proper usage

PhRMA has published a free special edition health guide, "Getting the Most of Your Medicines," that it hopes will encourage proper use of medications, particularly among women, children and senior adults.

According to PhRMA, as many as half of all prescription drugs are used improperly. This may lead to unnecessary health care costs and serious health problems.

"We want patients to get maximum benefit from every medicine they take," said Alan Holmer, president of PhRMA. "We're putting out this booklet to help patients take responsibility for the safe and effective use of their prescription drugs."

The booklet covers topics as basic as how to store medicines correctly and common mistakes patients make when taking medicines. Questions to ask one's doctor about a new medication are listed beside more comprehensive suggestions for older adults, who may have multiple medical problems, see more doctors and take more medicines.

PhRMA's pocket-book sized booklet also offers special tips for women who are breast-feeding, using oral contraceptives or supplementing their health care regime with non-prescription medicines. Children's needs and product safety issues, such as side effects and dosage variations, are also addressed.

"Getting the Most of Your Medicines" is one of a number of special edition health guides published by PhRMA. Other free booklets provide information on heart attack, stroke, breast cancer, menopause, prostate problems, mental illnesses, AIDS and Alzheimer's Disease. PR