Topics - People & Health

Patient Adherence– 50% of patients don’t take their medicine properly

In Europe, medication non-adherence costs governments an estimated €125 billion and contributes to the premature deaths of nearly 200,000 Europeans a year.

Poor adherence to medication can have a negative impact on both the potential clinical benefits of treatment and the cost-effectiveness of medicines. Patients may have poor knowledge of the disease, inadequate perceptions of the need for treatment, simply forget, or wish to avoid a therapy’s side effects. The interaction between healthcare professionals and patients also plays a role in ensuring patient adherence. To improve the current situation, where around 50% of patients fail to adhere to their prescribed regime, increased collaboration is needed between healthcare stakeholders if people are to get the most from their treatment and stop the waste.

EFPIA - Innovative Medicines InitiativeDr. Chris Sotirelis, European Patients' Forum Lunch debate at the European Parliament on "Improving the sustainability of healthcare systems through better adherence to therapies: A multi-stakeholder approach"

The pharmaceutical industry believes that the future lies in fully informed patients, supported by the health systems. There is a need for a concerted approach at EU and national levels involving patients, carers, health professionals to improve treatment adherence, as well as improved measures on information to patients and health literacy. We are still in the early stages of understanding what information is the most useful for patients in order to encourage better adherence. EUPATI Consortium, a patient-led academy and IMI initiative, is paving the way to provide scientifically reliable, objective, comprehensive information to patients on medicines research & development.

Advances in digital health media and modern technologies now provide further impetus for improvements in patient adherence and effective management of complex therapies by maximising patient contact and helping with intelligent diagnostic and monitoring devices.

Patient health literacy is critical to a treatment’s success, since the largest part of any therapy depends on the self-responsibility of the patients – taking medicines accordingly, engaging in physical activity, and healthy nutrition, etc. ICT-based solutions only work if used properly. The better the patients understand the disease and the treatment, the better they follow the programme.

Ascertaining Barriers for Adherence: policies for safe, effective and cost-effective use of medicines in Europe (The ABC Project)

An international research consortium was constructed under the Seventh Framework Programme for research and technological development (FP7) to develop strategies needed for European policymakers to effectively change the behaviour of both patients and healthcare professionals, in order to enhance patient adherence across Europe. The final report outlines the strategies necessary for improved adherence:

  • A system-based approach, which recognises the role of all medication adherence stakeholders: the patient, their family & carers, healthcare providers and payers, healthcare professionals, educators and researchers and the pharmaceutical industry
  • Consider the drug and disease characteristics, patients’ overall health status, and the relative importance of the drug in the patient’s overall care
  • Include interventions that target the three components of medication adherence: initiation, implementation, and persistence with medication taking
  • Consider behavioural theories, to further our understanding of factors that influence medication adherence and actions that can best improve adherence
  • Be sensitive to patient ‘s beliefs and preference
  • Include interventions that are supported by evidence on clinical effectiveness and which result in clinically- and cost-effective medications when taken according to the label instructions.

Read More: ABC Project final report