The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plans to continue providing funding to a campaign first started in 2010 to promote the importance of medication adherence to overall health-a potential boon to companies which have long argued that improper adherence can cause adverse events, result in worse outcomes for patients, cost government programs money and harm their revenues.
FDA seemed to back those contentions in its 5 June 2013 Federal Register notice, explaining that "nearly three out of four Americans report that they do not take their medication as directed," and one in three never fill the prescriptions made by their physician. FDA went on to cite an estimated cost of $290 billion per year for medication non-adherence, with much of that cost coming from the health effects of non-adherence.
"FDA recognizes medication adherence as a formidable health problem that results in health system and human costs that adversely impact our nation," it continued, adding that it feels it has the "responsibility as a public health agency" to educate the public about the importance of adherence.
In 2010, FDA began a campaign aimed at curbing non-adherence. The campaign, called "Script Your Future," was conducted in partnership with the National Consumers League (NCL) and a coalition of more than 130 other public-private partners. FDA, which participated in the program through its Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), said the numerous groups involved in the science-based campaign had allowed it to increase its reach and impact far beyond what it would have been able to do on its own.
The campaign's website already includes a number of tools meant to assist consumers with staying adherent to medication regimens, and also maintains a number of social media outreach efforts on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. One of the most prominent tools, CellTrust, provides consumers with regular phone alerts for someone to take their medicine at a given time. Other tools include specific health tips for staying adherent to the regimens of a particular disease, such as diabetes.
But perhaps the biggest challenge not yet faced by the campaign involves reaching consumers and patients with either low levels of literacy or low levels of health literacy, either of which could potentially contribute to non-adherence.
To that end, FDA said it has a long list of goals meant to reach consumers-and especially those that may not engage with traditional content like magazine advertisements or even television-in a number of ways. Those goals are:
- to develop new online resources and tools for patients
- to educate health care professionals with strategies to share with patients
- to continually evaluate the campaign to improve and enhance it
- to tailor campaign messaging to subpopulations of consumers who may need adaptations to best inform and educate them
- to further targeted market outreach through community events and activities
- to develop new campaign materials for patients and health care providers
- to further widespread dissemination of campaign materials to consumers and health care professionals across the country, including at pharmacies, community centers, workplaces, clinic offices, health fairs, and local events
- to provide counseling and education directly to consumers about adherence in their communities, including through the involvement of students studying pharmacy, medicine, nursing, and other health professions
- to explore new media opportunities for dissemination of the program at the local, State and national levels, in trade press, online journals, radio, television, and more
- to extend outreach through social media, such as Twitter chats, free text message reminders, online pledges through Facebook and Twitter and other channels
Regulators added that they're also considering adding patient and caregiver testimonials to the website of the campaign, new additions to a Facebook page, the translation of some of its outreach materials from English to Spanish, a public event later this year and a study of all media outreach.
The program will once again be run by the NCL due to its "unique expertise," FDA said. The funding for the program, however, will be relatively small-just $200,000 over the course of two years from the agency. Other funding for it will come from other stakeholders involved in the campaign, however.
Script Your Future Website
FDA Federal Register Announcement