Accenture’s life sciences group surveyed 8000 patients from the United States, Britain, Germany and France to elicit priorities and values in regard to prescription pharmaceuticals. (Accenture Report) In an era of expensive specialty drugs, price would seem to be the number one concern, and in fact, some specialty drug launches have been slow due to pricing issues. But patient input is probably rarely solicited in regard to the price or other features of medication, and would actually be pretty hard to design a drug according to that input. But it certainly can help a drug manufacturer figure out the best marketing strategy. You can always tell the patient what they want to hear, whether the product has those characteristics or not, and drug companies are certainly masters of that. So what guidance did patients give for medicine makers? 69% said the benefits of a product are more important to them than the brand. Most patients correctly perceive that new products are more expensive than existing ones. The respondents were about evenly split on whether they would always look at new products for their conditions or are they happy with the current treatment and don’t want to change. In terms of factors relating to their treatment decisions, 66% said the relationship with their doctor was the important one, 55% said ability to maintain current lifestyle, 53% said access to care, and 51% said ability to pay.
Patients don’t report high levels of product awareness. Only 38% said they felt very knowledgeable about new products coming to market for their conditions. Surprisingly, only 48% said their doctors discuss the full range of product choices with them. Patients are open to having drug manufacturers provide them with information that helps them understand treatment options and make choices, which may be related to the perception that they get as much information and discussion from clinicians as they would like. Patients who say they would consider switching a treatment are more likely to actually do so. The key reasons for changing to a different drug are recommendation from a physician, cited by 81%; proven improved benefits, listed by 79% and fewer side effects, listed by 78%. The authors of the report, who are clearly using it to garner business from drug companies, suggest that drug companies can take more of a lead in trying to influence patients in regard to the benefits and value of their products. Younger patients are more likely than older ones to consider a product switch and are less reliant on physician input, so manufacturers should take generational differences into account. There are also some relatively slight geographical differences.