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Adherence… A Two-Sided Equation

Tags: Adherence

When you’re thinking about adherence related to your brand, are you solely focused on what you can do to help patients be more compliant and persistent with their therapy? Well, if you are, you could be missing a really significant contributor to non-adherence—prescribers.

I know what you’re thinking… Doctors want their patients to take all of their medication, so how can they be contributing to non-adherence? Well, research shows that doctors can impede adherence through a number of means.

The first, and perhaps one of the more well known of these, is ineffective patient expectation setting. Most of the time, HCPs don’t do a great job of letting patients know what they can expect from their treatment. It’s especially poor when the patient has been treated for the same condition previously. Doctors may not talk about side effects because they fear they will scare the patients away from treatment. They don’t really talk about benefits because they worry about making promises related to efficacy. And, they don’t talk about how the drug works because they think patients don’t care or would not understand. You can see where this is going, right?

Patients are often leaving their doctor with a prescription, but with limited understanding as to why they are taking it. And patients who aren’t able to attach a value proposition to their brand are much less likely to remain adherent. What’s their reason to believe?

A lesser-known contributor to non-adherence by prescribers is that they often don’t reinforce the importance of medication adherence with patients. It turns out that many physicians actually give patients permission to skip doses when it comes to taking their medicines—noting that if they miss some doses it’s OK and unlikely to have an impact on their outcome. Furthermore, physicians have reported that they do not like to confront their patients about adherence because they feel it undermines the trust in their relationship. If doctors aren’t going to demand full adherence from patients, how can we expect that patients will strive for it themselves?

So when you’re thinking about adherence related to your drug, be sure you put your prescribers under the microscope as well. What you find there might surprise you and can drastically impact how you invest dollars to improve your brand’s duration of use.

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