Estimates vary, but as much as 20% of new prescriptions never get filled and 85% of refills never leave the pharmacy

Estimates vary, but as much as 20% of new prescriptions never get filled and 85% of refills never leave the pharmacy, according to the Consumer Health Information Corporation. Furthermore, a study conducted by the University of Arizona's School of Pharmacy finds that 40% of patients who receive outpatient drug therapy will experience a treatment failure or new medical problem as a result of improper use.

"Pharmaceutical Patient Compliance and Disease Management," a report from Cutting Edge Information (available at ), concludes that communication breakdowns are a main cause of patient noncompliance.

A patient may not understand a prescribed drug regimen or may doubt product efficacy. On the other side, pharmaceutical companies may not provide adequate resources for product information.

Patient noncompliance not only creates health problems -- it also harms pharmaceutical companies. "Drug makers understand the business implications. Consumers who do not complete treatment programs sever revenue streams, fail to form product loyalties and torpedo chances of long-term bonds with companies," said Eric Bolesh, senior analyst at Cutting Edge Information. Consumers who understand the impact of non-compliance are more apt to follow treatment regimens to their conclusion.

Companies are making efforts to better educate patients using several different approaches. Cutting Edge Information's report, available at , features compliance and disease management strategies employed by several top pharmaceutical companies such as Merck, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Aventis, and GlaxoSmithKline. Companies improve compliance by providing drug information to consumers. For example, Roche established a call center for its anti-obesity drug, Xenical. At the call center, trained nurses are available to discuss patients' prescriptions and to answer questions. The call center also conducts reminder calls to consumers at two weeks, one month, three months, and six months.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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