The Drumbeat of Medication Adherence

Specialty Pharmacy Times, April 2012, Volume 3, Issue 2

The issue of adherence is critical and it impacts cost and delivery of care. As the population ages, medication adherence becomes even more of a focal point for health care professionals.

The issue of adherence is critical and it impacts cost and delivery of care. As the population ages, medication adherence becomes even more of a focal point for health care professionals.

The constant drumbeat in pharmacy, a term that appears in almost every analysis, is medication adherence—whether it pertains to a clinical discussion or a key business trend. In actuality, it’s the non-adherence—patients who are not taking the right medications or not taking medications properly—that is the real issue. Non-adherence drives up the noise level about cost, accessibility, and regulation. It anchors every discussion of quality of care, the economics of pharmaceuticals, and the national health care reform that continues to be debated all the way to the Supreme Court.

Specialty pharmacy is right in the middle of this drumbeat, with a huge stake in medication adherence and an even larger stake in the coordination of the health care team. Costs are high in specialty, and the high-touch nature of the conditions that surround specialty pharmaceuticals makes the issue of non-adherence even more significant. Every edition of Specialty Pharmacy Times brings fresh, new insights into the complexities of adherence as we examine this constant drumbeat from many different angles. Our authors are experts in the industry who have worked closely with the challenges specialty pharmacy faces, and their “take” on the process—and solutions— is invaluable. We know that you will agree when you dig into this issue.

One of the major challenges we face as a nation, especially from the cost perspective, is the aging of our population. Our cover story discusses in depth the key trends and new challenges we encounter as more patients become involved in long-term care facilities. How is specialty pharmacy responding, and does this segment of the industry offer guidance for the rest of pharmacy? Specialty pharmacists seem to be ahead of the curve in many ways, with specific disease management programs in place for conditions ranging from HIV to hepatitis C to rheumatoid arthritis. And many of the tactics that are embraced to combat both the high cost and the heavy physical price of non-adherence find their roots in specialty pharmacy.

It’s an important drumbeat and we should pay close attention as we struggle with our country’s health care costs. As reported in this issue, 75% of Americans say that they do not always take medications as directed—costing $290 billion each year in avoidable health care costs. Zero in on specialty medications and the life-threatening diseases treated by them. You can then imagine the importance of working diligently toward adherence. Bringing you expert voices on those topics that really matter and opening doors to solutions— that’s why Specialty Pharmacy Times is here. Thank you for reading!

Mike Hennessy