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Patient Adherence Awards Winners Revealed

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The Center for Business Intelligence, on Monday, revealed winners of its annual Strategic Patient Adherence Awards as part of its two-day conference about patient compliance with their drug regiments.

This year’s award winners are:

  • Best Integrated Program—Shire Pharmaceuticals: FOSRENOL ON TRACK Direct To Patient Support Program
  • Best Disease State Program—BMS/Sanofi-Aventis Canada & Rx Canada: My Plavix Partner Program
  • Scientific Excellence Award—Merck: Medication Non-Fulfillment Rates and Reasons:  Systematic Review
  • Innovation Award #1—Kaiser Permanente: B-Smart Program
  • Innovation Award #2—Pfizer/Walgreens Patient Adherence Collaboration Project

Pharm Exec chatted with Robert Nauman, one of the judges and principal at Biopharma Advisors to find out more about the state of adherence programs in the drug industry.

Where is industry at right now with regard to adherence programs?

The pharma industry is at a point where they are falling behind other channels within the healthcare space in being able to provide adherence programs. The industry has never been very customer-centric over the past 15 years. They tried it, but struggled with customer-based programs.

That’s partly because their model is built around generating medical content. But that content is highly regulated. Today’s patients have very specific information needs, and we are seeing a trend towards behavioral-specific content that would move the needle for a particular patient.

Isn’t that positive for industry and patients?

Yes, but pharma is having a tough time getting behavioral-specific content through the FDA regulatory review process through a drug company. A lot of the adherence initiatives that are going on are marginally effective for two reasons. One, the content isn’t really valued by the end user; and secondly, none of them have been able to build programs of significant scale at this point in time. No one has ever reached a million patients through an adherence program. Some of these therapies have millions of patients on these drugs, but only register 15,000 people in the programs.

Are there any leaders in the area?

Healthcare providers like Kaiser, Partners Health, and MEDCO are really picking the ball up and running with it. Industries role is being relegated to a second string player. Also, I think collaboration/integration was a clear theme with all the award winners.

Shire’s On Track program was an integration of a lot of different marketing efforts that were designed as a multi-channel approach to improving adherence. It included targeted mailings, pharmacy letters, and a financial assistance program—all integrated in under an umbrella of a patient-support program that offered soup-to-nuts patient support.

There were a number of Canadian nominations this year; the Canadian branches of Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis won best disease state program. Is this trend telling?

This says something to the larger companies that tend to silo different patient initiatives and don’t tie them together. Because Canadian healthcare is national in scope, the programs they have must work together.

Can you talk a bit about the innovation awards?

The innovation awards were given to companies that we felt were fairly unique in some particular aspect of what they were doing. Maybe they didn’t fit into the criteria we were looking at in terms of best disease state program or best branded, but it helped evolve how we will look at entries in the future.

For example, Kaiser Permanente has a program that trains physicians and developed a process by which they could identify and target non-adherent patients for specific adherence interventions within the Kaiser Permanente system. They rolled this program out into their group in Southern California and had a significant impact in adherence rates in the patients that they ran through the program.

Why did you choose the collaboration between Pfizer and Walgreens?

Our second innovation award went to the Pfizer/Walgreens, which was interesting because Pfizer invested in the program but was completely hands-off and didn’t control it. It was Walgreens that made the investment to retrain its people to do motivational interviewing at the pharmacy counter. Rather than ask if a customer has any questions about a treatment, the pharmacist helps coach the customer about their disease and why it’s important to take his or her medication.

The program has shown an increase in adherence by 47 percent over the test group and proves that personalized interactions work.

Do you see things moving in the right direction?

I do, I just don’t think they are moving fast enough. There is also a rationale that industry shouldn’t be the only one paying for these programs, because adherence isn’t just a brand problem. One of the things we brought up at the conference was the concern over who will pay for these programs. Almost 75 percent of the medications dispensed today are generics and that is only going to grow. It shouldn’t just be pharma’s responsibility.

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