Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hot Topic: Rising Drug Prices & Falling Adherence

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Rising Prescription Drug Prices & Falling Medication Adherence

As we approach the next U.S. presidential election this upcoming November, candidates will increasingly be pressed to tackle issues most important to voters. One of these topics is the trend in rising prescription prices, as addressed last year by the Obama administration’s daylong forum in Washington. Affordable medicine is a hot topic because it ultimately affects the health and well-being of entire communities. When people do not adhere to the schedule of medicine as directed by their doctors, they often require repeat visits back to the doctor about the same issue and further burden the health care system.  One patient’s decision ripples into the region at large.
As someone whose goal is to help make health care more accessible to everyone in America, I am keenly interested in rising drug costs, how it leads to a drop in prescription adherence and what we can do about it. I am looking forward to this year’s ePharma Summit to hear:

Zipdrug CEO & Co-Founder, Stu Libby on medication non-adherence:


· Costs $290 billion in related health care needs.
· Annually causes 125,000 deaths due to complications.

· 20% of prescriptions filled in a pharmacy are never picked up.

AdhereTech CEO, Josh Stein on leveraging technology to raise drug adherence:


· Automatically track and improve prescription adherence in real-time using smart wireless pill bottles.
· How and why many of the largest and most innovative firms in health care are using his product.

· Why patients who use AdhereTech see an increase in adherence well over 20% and increases in compliance over 25%.

FIT4D CEO, David G. Weingard, on improving medication adherence through scalable expert coaching:


· U.S Pharmaceuticals lost an estimated $188 billion in domestic revenue due to medication non-adherence; and $564 billion globally
· Why diabetes-related costs increased 41% in 5 years
· How Fit4D’s technology platform enables expert diabetes educators to increase their capacity to deliver personalized care by 5x.
Medication adherence would be much less of a problem if prescriptions were more affordable.

According to a Kaiser Health tracking poll in August 2015:

· 54% of people surveyed report currently taking prescription drugs
· 24% say they have a difficult time paying for their prescriptions
· 72% of Americans feel that drug costs are unreasonable

We are in crisis and if we don’t find a solution to the ever-increasing prices of drugs, the situation will only worsen. According to The Washington Post, prescription drug prices jumped more than 10 percent in 2015. We are experiencing the 3rd year of double-digit increases, with increases across almost every drug category. Even generic drugs, which usually get cheaper over time, rose 2.93%. In 2014, prescription drug spending amounted to $297.7 billion, which accounted to the country's $3 trillion in health spending.

Since 90% of Americans have health insurance but most likely inadequate prescription coverage, here are some tips for saving on medicine.





Lisa Chau currently works in digital strategy and business development for free Prescription Discount Card provider, Watertree Health.  Her previous experience in health care includes biotechnology logistics management for Living Independently Group, and special projects in education for the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College in conjunction with affiliated teaching hospital, White River Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center. She has been published in Forbes, US News & World Report as well as Huffington Post. Read more about Watertree Health here and connect on Twitter: @WatertreeHealth.

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