Pharmaceutical Technology focuses much of its attention on the companies that manufacture the world’s drugs. We’ve noticed many stories on the wires lately that describe how the current economic situation is hurting drugmakers. But several press releases I saw today reminded me that patients are experiencing difficult times, too.
In the last three months, more than 13.5 million Americans (roughly 20% of adults who use long-term prescribed medication) have stretched out their medications by reducing dosages or taking drugs less often than prescribed, according to a survey conducted by International Communications Research (ICR), an independent market-research firm.
ICR’s figure includes more than 12 million adult patients taking oral medications and more than 1 million adult patients taking injectable therapies. An ICR press release states that even about 10% of patients who take critical drugs that must be injected by a health professional are stretching out these expensive prescriptions. Respondents to the ICR survey most often cited cost, insurance coverage, and medication copay as the reasons that they have begun stretching out their prescriptions.
A consumer study conducted by Manhattan Research, a pharmaceutical and healthcare market-research company, produced similar results. The study found that nearly 40 million US adults decided not to fill a prescription in the past year because of the cost, according to a company press release. “Healthcare costs and accessibility are major barriers for Americans,” said Meredith Abreu Ressi, the company’s vice-president of research, in the press release.
Patients will likely petition the new Obama administration for help, but they can also look to pharmaceutical companies for assistance. For example, Sanofi-Aventis US (Bridgewater, NJ) has increased access to its nononcology Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs), which help consumers obtain needed medications. Beginning on New Year’s Day, these PAPs will include eligible uninsured patients with incomes that are 250% of the Federal Poverty Level. Uninsured individuals with incomes as high as $26,000 and uninsured families of four with combined income of $53,000 may be eligible to receive the company’s prescription drugs for free. Sanofi-Aventis US’s PAPs include medicines for disease states such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, deep-vein thrombosis, and pulmonary embolism.
In the days before the Obama administration is sworn in and gains its footing, it is encouraging to see that some companies recognize the importance of helping patients in financial need.
See Angie Drakulich’s recent blog post on a similar topic.