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  • Barry Holleman

The Rx adherence challenge: invasive technologies or cold hard cash

A review of press releases and published articles from the last two weeks demonstrate that the challenge to increase Rx adherence continues (will it ever stop?). We found the following pieces to be thought provoking and worth mentioning.


Melissa B. Gilkey, PhD; Lauren A. Cripps, MA; Rachel S. Gruver, MPH; Deidre V. Washington, PhD; and Alison A. Galbraith, MD, MPH published "Preventive Drug Lists as Tools for Managing Asthma Medication Costs" in the American Journal of Managed Care.


Their results state: "Some members [of high deductible care plans] reported that PDLs provided financial benefit and facilitated adherence to preventive medications. Others experienced barriers to using PDLs. Notably, some PDLs did not include members’ asthma medications or provided only modest cost coverage due to restrictions in underlying formulary structures.


Members who were aware of having a PDL sometimes worked with their providers to switch to listed medications. However, many members were not aware of having a PDL. Finally, because PDLs did not cover nonmedication costs, some members still struggled to afford asthma care."


Where the 'n' is limited in this study, the authors aimed for exploratory findings. The underpinning concept of PDL's and the insurer ready to pay for adherence is what caught our attention and animated discussions at MUUTAA.


The Pharmacy Times published What is the Current Status of Bioingestible Sensors for Medication Adherence? by Timothy D. Aungst, PharmD.

He provides an overview of studies on technologies that aim to track and intervene on patients' medication adherence.


"Sensors that can be attached to insulin pens, smart auto-injectors for patients with MS, sensors for inhalers, smart pill bottles, and bioingestible sensors are some of the evolving technologies. Studies have focused on all of these areas, with pros and cons of their usage being evaluated for patient care integration. However, there has not been a blockbuster up to this point, leaving the market wide open for novel startups to create digital health interventions.


The bioingestible sensor space has recently seen big news with the only 2 companies in the market. EtectRx (formerly EtectBio) received FDA clearance on their ID-Cap® System in December 2019. This system allows a medication—tablet or capsule—to be co-encapsulated into a capsule with a sensor called an ID-Capsule. When swallowed, it will dissolve, and send out a signal through RFID to an external receiver that a patient is wearing, such as an ID-Cap Reader, a device on a lanyard worn around the neck. This ingestion data is then forwarded to the user's smartphone to sync the data, which can then be shared with others, such as a patient's provider."


At MUUTAA we applaud and are intrigued by these developments as pan industry Rx medication data collection, structuring and (re)valorizing is what we do.


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