AstraZeneca says docs top driver to patient assistance programs

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Doctors and pharmacists drive a third of patients to AstraZeneca's AZ&Me prescription savings program, according to a company survey – a finding that AstraZeneca said highlights the value of its sales reps' interactions with healthcare professionals.

A year-long survey of 12,000 patients who contacted AstraZeneca to inquire about the assistance program found that 35% were referred by healthcare professionals, while another 14% learned of the program from brochures in doctors' offices, hospitals, clinics or pharmacies.

DTC advertising drove 9% of patients to the program, and AstraZeneca websites accounted for another 7%. Patients citing advertising learned abut the program from a variety of newspaper, radio and TV ads, the company said, noting that it was the first in the industry to promote prescription savings programs through product ads. Nexium TV spots started carrying the message in 2005, and the policy was soon broadened to include all AstraZeneca product spots.

Rounding out the survey were those who heard about the program through family or friends (5%) and “Other/don't know” (24%).

The company said its program helped nearly 500,000 patients fill 2.8 million prescriptions last year, resulting in more than $500 million in savings to them.
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