Disease Management: Is Pharma Missing the Boat?

By March 6, 2008Strategy

I have thinking a lot about the challenges of patient adherence these past few weeks. For the uninitiated, adherence is the art and science of helping patients with chronic or long-term conditions stay on their therapies. I always think about it, because I have seen firsthand the confusion patients suffer from lack of support — but anyway, a statistic came to mind from my old mass market days that I felt like posting.

Today, so many pharmaceutical marketers still focus on acquisition to the detriment of the overall long-term health of their patient and brand sales. But the classic stat is this: a 1% increase in customer loyalty is equivalent to a 10% cost reduction. In other words, improved adherence goes straight to the bottom line. It is essentially pure profit.

There is so much to say about adherence. Last summer I spoke on a MedAdNews panel about the challenges surrounding the issue, which are vastly complex and easily overwhelming. But while pharma is starting to look at the problem (and I sure wonder why Wall Street is not!), the real solutions are emerging from the Disease Management companies working through managed care and major employers. One which I know of well and admire is Active Health Management (http://www.activehealthmanagement.com/). Aetna purchased them for good reason.


More to the point, pharma and biotech marketers need to decide whether these companies are a threat to their own adherence efforts, or perhaps their best partner. After all, if the disease management companies really take hold, there will be no compelling reason for pharma to have such programs, and in doing so, we will lose access and influence on our patients.

Think about it. Look around. Adherence IS being dealt with and pharma may be left behind.

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