Speak up, pharma: Patients don't know about your support services, survey says

Many patients, especially those with serious chronic conditions, welcome pharma support services. But there's a lack of awareness about the availability of that help among patients managing chronic conditions, a recent survey found.

Almost two out of three people (63%) with chronic conditions said they would opt into pharma services, according to the survey by Human Care Systems. However, the results revealed 80% were unaware of pharma patient support programs.

There was also a correlation between the seriousness of the condition and a patient’s interest in pharma help. For instance, 73% of people with cancer and 86% of people with lupus said they would take advantage of support services offered by a drugmaker.

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Six in 10 Americans have at least one chronic disease such as diabetes, high cholesterol, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. The survey included 1,100 patients age 18 or older who take one or more medicines for complex health conditions.

“There’s a high degree of acceptance for pharma support because pharma can provide very targeted, very specific support to help overcome the barriers that get in the way of starting and staying on medicine. So there is demand, usage and interest in pharma support services, but they’re not as widely known as you would want,” said Matt Hall, CEO of Human Care Systems, which calls itself a treatment experience company and works with biopharma companies on patient service programs.

Treatment adherence is an ongoing problem across the industry. The World Health Organization estimates only 50% of people with chronic diseases in developed countries take their medicine as prescribed.

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The survey findings show that pharma could be marketing or promoting patient services better and offering more personalized service. Patients, even with the same condition, have unique and specific support needs, according to the survey, but current pharma programs tend to lack the personalization and relevance that patients are looking for, Hall said.

“Everyone may struggle with cost, for instance, but the way that plays against other factors including motivation, social support, and physician relationship may make that struggle with cost very different for different people,” Hall said.