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NEW YORK Boehringer Ingelheim has done a major service to the industry with the release of this report. Closing the gap on patient compliance and adherence remains not only the best opportunity for retail pharmacy to grow the business at a time of waning big blockbuster drug introductions and continued pressure from generic competition, but also represents the best opportunity for this industry to “show what it’s got,” as the entire nation turn its attention to health reform.
Hundreds of billions of healthcare dollars are spent needlessly as a result of people not taking their medications as they are supposed to, to say nothing of the toll it’s taking on patient outcomes.
Reading between the lines here, one of the big reasons behind non-compliance could very well be the state of the economy. A public opinion poll of 1,025 adults conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in mid-July found that 49% of Americans are still taking cost-cutting measures when it comes to their healthcare: 33% are shifting to medicines available over-the-counter in favor of a doctor’s visit; 21% skipped a doctor-recommended medical test or treatment because of cost; and 15% cut prescription doses in half or skipped doses in an effort to stretch their medicines. And taking those kinds of cost-cutting measures — saving a co-pay today but risking an emergency room visit tomorrow — only helps to amplify the important role a pharmacist can play in helping their patients navigate cost-saving strategies in an effort to maintain/boost compliance.
“All of those things…are happening,” Ted Epperly, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, told Drug Store News in the fall following a similar Kaiser survey, and its cutting deeper than just the working poor, he said. Patients who would fall into lower- and middle-income status are making similar cost-cutting decisions.
Also already happening is that pharmacist interceding on the patient’s behalf to help mitigate prescription-drug costs. “We’ve found that physicians were particularly receptive to calling on a patient’s behalf and giving suggestions on how that patient could save money, especially if it was a matter of a patient either not taking that medication at all or taking something [else] to address their condition,” Douglas Hoey, SVP and COO for the National Community Pharmacy Association, told Drug Store News this past fall.