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Trend: Drug Debate Drumbeat Carries On

Trend: Drug Debate Drumbeat Carries On

Santa Rosa, CA. – In a recent interview with Kaiser Health News, John Krahne, diagnosed with brain and lung tumors 10 years prior, outlined his decision to delay filling his prescriptions to continue his treatment in hopes his cancer wouldn’t take advantage of the lapse. While John’s story isn’t the only example, it is a constant reminder in the news today that the drug debate continues on.

Several recent studies were also cited throughout the article proving this trend of delaying or stopping treatment altogether is growing in popularity.

  • A February study published in Cancer revealed about 10% of patients skipped medications or took less than prescribed while 14% delayed prescriptions altogether.
  • A December study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology revealed 33% of Medicare patients who were expected to fill their prescription, failed to fill within six months of diagnosis.

While this is an obvious ongoing concern for patients, the other burden it’s placing is on the doctor.

My job is to prescribe the best treatment, said Dr. Yousuf Zafar, associate professor of medicine and public policy at the Duke Cancer Institute in North Carolina. But I’m not doing my job if I prescribe a drug and walk away and leave them with tens of thousands of dollars in immediate debt.

And to bring pharma’s voice into the mix and what is not (or as easy) to communicate the impact – how many lives they saved by bringing life-saving therapies to the market after spending billions researching the best for the cancer community.

Why This Matters:

As we continue to follow this trend, our team is seeing pharmaceutical brands stepping up to create awareness around humanizing the ‘drug making’ process and attempting to bridge the media’s message and defending practices.

For example, In 2016, Astellas Pharma launched a new corporate TV ad featuring its own employees from around the world talking about their focus to work together to improve people’s lives. The campaign mirrors the efforts of other pharma leaders to humanize the teams behind the molecules. Merck joined in with it’s online and social campaign “Humans for Health” which is a deep dive into its employees’ passions around their work.

As marketers and PR professionals, it is more important than ever to keep our brands up to speed on these current trends and helping them overcome these ongoing challenges with showcasing changing expectations and what the drivers are behind these changes.