New industry alliance fosters patient compliance

June 19, 2006

Is it possible to raise public awareness about the value of medications while demonstrating the important role of community pharmacists in maximizing the effectiveness of drug therapy? The Pharmacy Value Alliance (PVA), a coalition of pharmaceutical companies and community pharmacy organizations, thinks so.

Commenting on the origin of PVA, Cathy DuRei, director, Pfizer Trade Group, told Drug Topics about a Pfizer-hosted summit for pharmaceutical executives that was held in Sarasota, Fla., in October 2003.

"At that meeting we discussed the challenges that both pharmacy and the pharmaceutical industry were facing in terms of a lack of understanding and appreciation of the value of our products and services." They discussed whether their two industries should work together to share educational messages and to enhance the appreciation for medication compliance. It seemed to make sense, so they formed a small task force called the Sarasota Group. The group has since been renamed the Pharmacy Value Alliance.

Laura Cranston, R.Ph., PVA coordinator, said PVA's first task was to launch a pilot program. It was conducted from December 2004 to April 2005 at 90 pharmacies. "We used opportunity statements to teach pharmacists and technicians how to change a patient's negative or neutral perception into a positive one and how to take the trust that consumers have always placed in pharmacists and change that trust to value."

PVA recently kicked off phase two of its free training program. Called Motivating Patients With CARE (Coaching, Adherence, Relationship-building, and Education): Improving Patient Health Through Effective Communications, the program is available via four separate CE programs and will be on display at wholesaler trade shows this year and in 2007.

"The program is very proactive. It takes the approach that the pharmacist needs to go out and reach patients at the point of care-when they drop off or pick up their prescription," said Cranston. She went on to give the example of an asthmatic patient who goes to the pharmacy 30 days late to fill a prescription. She said it is important for pharmacists to approach the patient, and tell him or her it's important to take medicine on a daily basis, and ask if the doctor has changed directions for taking the medication. The training program teaches pharmacists how to elicit information from noncompliant patients.

Emphasizing that the program incorporates motivational interviewing techniques, DuRei provided the following statistics from the World Health Organization's 2003 adherence report: Fifty percent of patients in the United States do not take their medicine properly; 30% of all refillable prescriptions are never filled; 17%-20% of all new prescriptions are never filled.

What does the future hold for PVA? "As we begin to see medication therapy management [MTM] services roll out, we have to help educate the consumer about our role as pharmacists in the delivery of those services," Cranston said. "The program goes a long way in helping pharmacists to position themselves and to change the perception of their role in consumers' minds. A pharmacist who sees a patient who is qualified for MTM services can tell the patient, 'I'd like to schedule that service with you.' Pharmacists have to help change the consumer's image of what pharmacists do. We have an important role to play in adherence and compliance, and we have to communicate that to the patient. We have to change the experience at the counter."