Show You the Data, You Say

You love data. That fact is especially obvious when we discuss the potential benefits of using compliance-style packaging: you always ask for proof that such packaging can actually improve patient adherence with drug regimens.

We may have some news to share this year. Kevin Carter, director of new business development for McKesson Pharmaceutical Packaging, reports that results from the first of two pilot studies may be available in 2011. The first study, taking place nationally in a large retail chain, involves packaging a once-daily maintenance drug in both bottles and child-resistant Burgopaks and comparing patient refill rates for each format. McKesson, the exclusive licensee in North America, commercialized the Burgopak in the United States in 2009 and launched a child-resistant version of the package in 2010.

McKesson is also set to begin the second pilot in 2011 through its 300-400 Healthmart pharmacies, which make up a McKesson-brand program. “McKesson has a unique advantage to bring pilot opportunities to our independent retail pharmacies and with the expertise to conduct the study from packaging and distribution, to analytics,” says Carter. “The Burgopak provides manufacturers with package design options to incorporate important customer messages on the medication package.”

The goal of the pilots is to see how the Burgopak package compares with regular prescription bottles specifically relating to refill and adherence behaviors. The pilots are expected to generate both qualitative and quantitative data. “We are excited for the interest that branded manufacturers show in using compliance packaging to improve patient therapy,” says Carter. “And we are thrilled to be able to assist in the process by targeting different demographics and capturing the necessary data points.” Carter recognizes that “data is critical” for manufacturers to make a change from the typical bottle or vial.

Carter understands the Pharma industry's desire for proven return on investment, because the challenge always lies in justifying the increased packaging cost. In some cases, a switch to a compliance-style package could add $1 per package, he notes. “The question is, 'How much benefit is achieved over a year to recoup that $12?' Consider if the typical patient refills a prescription for a maintenance drug at 40 or 50 days with a steady trend of even longer refill gaps after six months.  If compliance packaging can help patients to refill on time at 30 days…the economic benefit is significant even after just one year.”

These pilots will not incorporate any other adherence solution so that the study results will only evaluate the impact of the compliance packaging.  “In fact the only level of pharmacy intervention in the study will be the pharmacists explaining the study and why the patient is receiving their prescription in a new packaging,” Carter explains.  “We all need data to prove the ROI. We have planned this carefully so we could ensure a high level of confidence in the results,” says Carter.

We applaud Carter and his team at McKesson for investing in controlled studies and for planning to share their results. It is quite possible that the lack of such data in the past may have hindered the use of compliance packaging. Some speculate that many compliance packaging users have collected their own ROI data but keep it confidential for fear of losing a marketing edge. McKesson, thankfully, is breaking that tradition. “We are excited to tout the results and publish the data to support the shift to compliance packaging,” Carter says.

This article appeared in the January 2011 edition of PMP News's ePackage Newsletter.

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