‘Skipping pills, greater ills: how to reduce non-adherence’
Senior industry figures gather to discuss critical challenge facing pharma
Last week, Matthew Arnold & Baldwin LLP – in conjunction with the Pharmaceutical Industry Network Group (PING), Watford Council and the Hertfordshire LEP – welcomed over 120 delegates to an exclusive, invitation-only seminar entitled ‘Skipping pills, greater ills: how to reduce non-adherence’. The event also included the inaugural PING Innovation Award.
Dorothy Thornhill, Mayor of Watford, opened the event. Speaking about the potential of the town, Dorothy spoke compellingly of her plans to attract business to Watford, saying: “Watford has a strong economic profile and is already home to a growing number of businesses in the pharmaceutical and health sciences sector. We are investing heavily in the future of the town, making bold and ambitious decisions to ensure we attract employers to provide jobs for our residents.”
Paul Witcombe from Hertforshire LEP talked about the importance of life sciences to Hertfordshire and of their plans for investment, commenting: “Hertfordshire is a hotbed of activity in Life Sciences, and Hertfordshire LEP is proud to be associated with this successful public-private initiative that brings the NHS, industry and academia together”.
The first speaker, Dr Alison Carr of Hamell, introduced delegates to some of the key considerations of non-adherence with a particular focus on patient behaviour. Hamell has built a reputation for its scientific approach to understanding and then changing behaviour. They have developed a unique model that integrates theories from across the behavioural sciences, from psychology and anthropology, to behavioural economics and sociology; this gives a real depth to their research. Underpinning their work are robust statistical techniques, established through partnerships with expert academics, enabling their evidence to stand up to scientific scrutiny.
Amanda Blacklock, of Blacklock Consulting, shared some of the learnings from her 30 years’ experience working in healthcare, including senior global marketing roles at GSK. She discussed some of the impact and implications of non-adherence, giving a holistic view that encompassed the effect on purchasers (such as the NHS), the pharmaceutical industry and patients. Noting that “drugs don’t work in patients who don’t take them”, Amanda highlighted the “huge and complex challenge” associated with non-adherence and gave examples of the significant financial and human costs. As well as the challenges posed in comparing the “real world” efficacy of drugs Vs that found in clinical trial settings, Amanda referred to the “£300m of wastage just from unused pills in a cash-strapped NHS”, and went on to confirm that best estimates suggest that drug manufacturers “lose around 25% of their revenue to non-adherence”. The picture in the EU highlights the scale of the issue: non-adherence costs the €125bn – and 200,000 lives – every year (the equivalent of the GDP of Hungary, and the populations of Watford & Hemel Hempstead).
Highlighting the technological advances in this sphere, Barnaby Poulton of Proteus discussed the opportunities presented by Digital Health. In particular, Barnaby explained to delegates the ground-breaking development of a new category of therapy called Digital Medicine, where an Ingestible Sensor the size of a grain of sand and made entirely of naturally occurring materials is integrated with medicine. The patient then wears a patch, worn on their torso, with which the sensor communicates, recording the time each pill is swallowed and collects physiological metrics such as heart rate, physical activity and rest. Proteus then processes the data, and relevant information is displayed in a user-friendly app for the patient. Barnaby talked about how, despite technological advances in almost every sphere of life, “healthcare providers aren’t taking advantage of all of the opportunities”; “Digital Medicines mark a real turning point in this, helping improve the real-world effectiveness of medicines in community settings”.
Concluding the main presentations, Alison Carr again took to the stage, this time dispelling some of the many myths surrounding non-adherence, including why people do not take their medicine as prescribed. She astonished members of the audience by informing them that just 7% of non-adherence is purely down to unintentional non-adherence, such as forgetting or inability to access the medication. Behavioural issues were the cause of the rest (intentional non-adherence). Alison noted that “without understanding why people don’t take their meds as prescribed, we can’t possibly hope to increase adherence”. One of the key facts dispelling a myth of non-adherence is that “rates of non-adherence in doctors are just as high as they are in the general population”.
Paul Gershlick, Head of Life Sciences & Healthcare at Matthew Arnold & Baldwin, said:
“Adherence is a very hot topic and we were delighted to welcome over 120 guests to hear about this important topic from some of the industry’s leading players on this issue, including Proteus and behavioural experts. It was highly satisfying to see attendees come away with great insight on the impact of non-adherence, the causes and some cutting-edge solutions at the forefront of technology that get to grips with the rationale behind the issue. With pharmaceutical organisations under more pressure than ever to prove the efficacy of their medicines, healthcare providers needing to reduce wastage and other unnecessary costs in a need to get “more for less” and an increasing number of people reliant on long-term medication, it’s no wonder that this topic proved so popular among delegates”.
The PING Innovation Award was introduced to recognise some of the truly revolutionary activities within the sector. TEMAG Pharma and Avisius Research were both shortlisted for the award. The overall winner title was split between ‘Technology’ and ‘Process’, the former being won by Proteus and the latter by Leslie Morgan of Durbin. Further details of their award-winning projects can be found here.
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Notes to editors:
Matthew Arnold & Baldwin LLP, located in London and Watford, is regarded as one of the leading regional commercial law firms in the South East. We pride ourselves on giving clients clear, practical advice and aim to deliver solutions that are business driven and meet the needs of today’s commercial organisations.
The firm has a strong focus within three core sectors: Banking & Finance; Pharmaceuticals, Life Science & Healthcare; and Technology, Media & Telecommunications.
Issued by Matthew Arnold & Baldwin LLP
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