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How is the Pharmaceutical Industry Addressing Medication Adherence?

Medication adherence continues to be one of the most widespread issues faced by the pharmaceutical industry.  According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 50 percent of all prescribed medications are not taken as directed.  For conditions such as depression (50 percent), pain (52 percent) and GERD (54 percent), adherence rates barely exceed 50 percent.  Unfortunately, this trend of low adherence is not isolated, as it spans across a variety of conditions – including even chemotherapy drugs (60 percent) and diabetes treatments (63 percent).

While medication adherence (or lack thereof) has had a significantly negative effect on patient health outcomes, it also has had a profound, trickle-down impact on the revenue and perceived value of a pharmaceutical company’s branded medications.  According to industry research, the U.S. pharmaceutical industry loses an estimated $188 billion each year as a result of medication non-adherence. This figure represents 59 percent of the $320 billion in total U.S. pharmaceutical revenue in 2011 and 37 percent of $508 billion annual potential revenue.

While medication non-adherence leads to a loss of immediate revenue opportunities, it also has a longer-term impact that could adversely affect the lifecycle of a pharmaceutical company’s brand value. It is estimated that 36 percent of potential sales are lost per medication due to non-adherence – a result of lower sales due to lower consumption.

Additionally, when a patient does not adhere to a particular medication, physicians are unable to determine if the drug is ineffective for the patient or if it’s simply not being taken as prescribed. Studies have shown that clinicians may advocate for switching to another brand or medication instead of monitoring compliance. This is problematic not only for the pharmaceutical company, but also for the healthcare system as switching medications carries an extremely high cost.

How is medication adherence addressed today?

Pharmaceutical companies, as well as other stakeholders, perceive medication non-adherence as a significant hurdle.  As with most industries, it is less costly to keep an existing customer than to acquire a new one. Pharmaceutical and life science industries are no exception. They know how impactful solving medication adherence issues can be for improving patient outcomes, generating real-world evidence to appeal to payers/regulators, and increasing revenue.

According to a 2017 survey of pharmaceutical marketers and related professionals, brand managers desire to implement robust medication adherence programs, but are all too often faced with organizational barriers, such as being unable to develop a clear ROI (45 percent) and insufficient budget (43 percent). Limited senior management support (26 percent) and poor alignment with organizational strategy/priorities (25 percent) are also key culprits. Another issue for pharmaceutical brands is the lack of medication adherence data necessary to help them maintain an effective program.

When it comes to intervention strategies, there is no silver bullet solution that offers universal effectiveness for patients and conditions. Nevertheless, for pharmaceutical brands that build adherence programs, there are many interventions to choose from that can yield impressive dividends. Clinical intervention methods, such as nurse educators and pharmacist programs, have been shown to be highly effective but are better targeted for specialty and costly medications. Because this type of intervention requires a cost-prohibitive level of human interaction, it often leads to programs that become cost centers achieving marginal ROI, forcing brand managers to redirect their budgets. As a result, widespread adoption has not yet come to fruition.

Roadblocks to Success

Most adherence programs employ a one-size-fits-all approach that focuses on building high-touch engagement programs, instead of smarter, more impactful, and timely engagement with patients. Some of the more sophisticated programs may target intervention delivery based on patient segments, but in reality, even individual patients within a segment are significantly different.

Medication adherence is extremely unique and individualized to each patient. For example, two patients may be categorized into the same patient segment because of similarities in age range, marital status, salary, education and even interests (like having a monthly gym membership). Oftentimes, these patients will have messages delivered to them that are the same and occurring at relatively similar points in time. However, there are hundreds of variables unique to each patient that are not captured by simple profiling. These variables are statistically correlated to being predictive of medication adherence behaviors. A few select examples include:

  • Polypharmacy (patients picking up prescriptions from multiple pharmacies)
  • Comorbidities
  • Dosing regimen (complexity, frequency, dosing)
  • Medication synchronization
  • Miles from nearest pharmacy
  • Health insurance and reimbursement eligibility
  • … and hundreds of additional calculated variables unique to each patient

One of the biggest hurdles that pharmaceutical companies face is the lack of accessibility and  patient data due to regulatory constraints. As a result, pharmaceutical companies often spend lots of money inefficiently – with little information available to them and utilizing targeting interventions in an oversimplified manner. To ensure the proper intervention, it must be delivered at the right time – when the patient needs it most and will respond to it best.

Artificial Intelligence to the Rescue

As a proven industry leader, AllazoHealth helps pharmaceutical manufacturers overcome the barriers that prevent medication adherence. Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), the AllazoEngine™ predicts and identifies at-risk patients and then targets interventions in message and timing.

Through its strategic partnerships with retail pharmacy chains and pharmacy network aggregators, AllazoHealth helps aggregate data on behalf of pharmaceutical manufacturers to source patient data. The AllazoEngine™ is the only RCT-validated AI-powered solution that is actively servicing the pharmaceutical industry specific to medication adherence. Unlike traditional medication adherence programs, the AllazoEngine achieves a 5.5x greater adherence uplift.

Recognized for the innovative work that they are currently conducting on the behalf of pharmaceutical manufacturers, AllazoHealth was recently named the winner in the 2017 Fierce Innovation Awards in the Data Analytics and Business Intelligence category. To learn how artificial intelligence can increase the ROI of your medication adherence program, please request a demo.

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Improving the Effectiveness of Adherence Interventions by


We worked alongside Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and their call center vendor to launch one of our biggest programs, working to improve adherence rates across their population of 104,392 Medicare Advantage Part D (MAPD) patients. We found that AllazoHealth targeted interventions accounted for 5.45 times the uplift in adherence compared to traditionally targeted interventions.