Non-Adherence, Technology and DTC

A recent study from Capgemini Consulting found that the pharma industry is losing more than $180 billion due to non-adherence.1 One reason for the leakage between the provider’s office and the pharmacy is an information search by the patient between the writing of the prescription and the dispensing of the prescription. The post diagnosis information gathering step will become even more important as providers continue to have less time. During information gathering, patients interact and discuss their diagnosis and prescribed therapy with peers in large part through the Internet. Layering on today’s growing mobile information environment, the post diagnosis information-gathering step will become an even more important channel for pharma marketers.

To endure the coming changes to healthcare delivery, it is imperative that pharma marketers actively seek avenues to integrate the brand message into “patient information gathering” opportunities such as in the post diagnosis and pre-visit steps. Positive brand reinforcement in these information gathering steps will help educate and transition patients from receiving a written prescription to receiving a dispensed prescription. With looming PPACA changes, the astute pharma marketer will use post diagnosis communication channels to communicate support directly with patients and build brand loyalty.

The pre-visit information-gathering step is another area that may be used by pharma marketers. This information channel is already employed by pharma marketers through their Direct-to-Consumer endeavors. A recent study published in the International Journal of Industrial Organization, from Jayani Jayawardhana, an assistant professor in the University of Georgia, College of Public Health, found that DTC advertising efforts have a positive effect on consumer welfare and spurred under-diagnosed patients to seek medical treatment. This study added further support to other DTC research, which suggests DTC leads to a more informed and inquisitive patient. Although individual product marketing campaigns may be cutting back on DTC advertising, a more efficient collaborative-based approach to informing consumers and providers may be advantageous to the industry as a whole.


Twenty-five years ago, the provider was the center of the pharmaceutical universe, and it might have been enough to just generate prescriptions. As the new normal unfolds, providers will have even less time to convey pharmaceutical information to the patient. In today’s changing environment, pharma marketers must identify areas where they can communicate the importance of the brand, but it must be done at times when there is opportunity. Implementing PPACA healthcare delivery changes will have a significant and possibly damaging domino effect causing constraints in some traditional communication pathways, but it also allows for new opportunities.

A pharma marketer that understands the patient journey process is able to identify areas of opportunity and better able to implement tactics to offset the loss of traditional pathways for communicating brand enhancements such as support and loyalty programs. One thing is certain with the PPACA: Just using the old standard provider-to-patient based communication channel will not bring the forecasted returns as they once did. In the long term, pharma marketing will survive. But in the near term, marketers need not panic about the PPACA. Instead, marketers need to know how communication channels are shifting and where the best channel is to present their patient communications.


1. Capgemini Consulting, Annual Pharmaceutical Revenue Loss Due to Medication Non-Adherence,

  • Stephen Casey

    Managing Director of MedAdvocacy LLC. Steve’s more than 25 years of commercial experience includes carrying the detail bag, brand management, the c-suite, consulting and business start-up. MedAdvocacy assists innovative product marketers by streamlining communication processes and collaboration.


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