Solving the adherence problem – changing the patients’ outlook on drugs
What is the adherence problem?
Medical non-adherence is one of the growing concerns affecting healthcare today and lack of it is associated with adverse outcomes and higher costs of care. Adherence is especially important in the case of chronic conditions where patients need to take more than one medicine for maintenance. Patients often settle into a routine of skipping drugs either due to stress or due to various lifestyle factors leading to persistent high-risk behaviour.
Factors causing lack of medical adherence:
Medical non-adherence to prescription can be a result of several factors. Patients may take issue with swallowing of medicines because of their frequent consumption, the associated oral discomfort, the bitter and unpalatable taste, misplacing or losing their pillboxes during travel and paraphernalia required to administrate medicine (like glass, water, spoon, measuring cup, etc) not being available in close proximity. Here is a more detailed list of risk factors that routinely get in the way of medical adherence:
Elderly patients are prone to forgetting their medication regimen and are more likely to procrastination. Those suffering from diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Huntington’s disease tend to suffer from mental degeneration which makes remembering to take the right doses at the right time a nightmare for elderly patients.
When the prescription/regimen of medication is complex, then the patients may get confused about what drug to use at what time. With a written prescription, most of the time, it’s difficult to understand or figure out the doctor’s handwriting. Thus, a complex regimen may lead to patients unknowingly missing out on their medication.
A high number of doses:
Depending on the stage or gravity of the disease, the number of doses per day may go up. The patient may have to take a higher number of doses per day if they are suffering from a chronic condition. This may prove to be mentally and physically taxing for the patient leading to skipped or mismanaged doses
People who find it difficult to manage their time well are prone to keep themselves busy at work and at home. Such busy schedules often leave little time for self-care or a healthcare regimen. Urban and corporate lifestyles with long and sedentary work hours tend to adversely affect adherence.
Time of dose:
The time of the dosage may vary depending on the disease. Some medications are needed to be taken in early mornings with an empty stomach. Some patients may feel nauseated when they take such drugs and tend to forego them without informing their medical practitioner.
Side effects of drug:
Patients who are unduly scared of side effects and allopathic medicine may skip the medication or avoid going to the doctor altogether due to their phobia. Patients may even have a fear of choking on tablets or fear of injecting themselves based on traumatic childhood experiences.
How OTFs are helping solve for medical adherence:
Oral Thin Films are a novel drug delivery method that dissolves instantly on contact with saliva releasing the active drugs. These thin films are safe, portable and easier to administer than tablets, capsules, and pellets as they can be swallowed without water and external paraphernalia. OTFs also have increased bioavailability by entering the bloodstream directly.
They are also lower in the number of excipients, reducing the load of excipients on the body by about 70% as compared to traditional oral medication. This leads to a reduction in the size of doses, likelihood of overdoses and side effects. Oral films are also quite effective in cases of nausea, vomiting, headaches, and migraines due to faster absorption rates into the bloodstream.
With research being done towards converting even the injectables into oral or sublingual films underway, soon patients suffering from phobias of tablets, injections, capsules as well as their side effects will find OTF films as a safer and easier alternative. Their high portability and patient convenience focussed delivery are helping patients who suffer from non-adherence problems overcome self-sabotaging behavior.