AstraZeneca chief executive sees changes ahead for DTC

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Speaking at the World Health Care Forum this week, AstraZeneca president and chief executive David Brennan said he anticipates changes in DTC advertising, and called for greater emphasis on disease awareness programming and initiatives to drive compliance and persistence.
"I believe some of the education that should take place for consumers should probably be handled to some degree by how we advertise these products," Brennan said. He also called on pharma companies to "create more of these awareness types of programs so people understand the implications of actually continuing their medications."
As part of a panel on consumer-driven healthcare, Brennan said: "We need to simplify the system somehow so that we can have a better education system, a better way of getting information to consumers so that they can make better decisions."
The panel weighed the impact of federal health policy initiatives such as health savings accounts (HSAs) on consumer choices and access to healthcare. Panelist George Halvorson, chairman and chief executive of the Kaiser Foundation, proposed the creation of a national database on caregivers, saying it's impossible for consumers to make informed choices on practitioners, and warned that HSAs could have a detrimental impact on patient compliance and persistence.
"About 30 percent of patients on cholesterol drugs tend not to refill when their co-pays are doubled. You see a drop-off. Your diabetics, your asthmatics tend not to refill their prescriptions and emergency room visits and hospital admissions both tend to go up," Halvorson said.
Brennan noted that sales growth in the U.S. pharmaceutical market has slowed from a range of 15 to 16 percent in the late '90s to roughly 9 percent last year. "It's important to note how much it has slowed down, probably as a result of the tiering and co-pays and increases [in cost]," Brennan said.
-- Matthew Arnold reporting from Washington, D.C.
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