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The patient’s experience is used too little in monitoring pharmacotherapy realisation

Increasing adherence to pharmacotherapy is one of the most significant ways to increase the cost-effectiveness of treatment – currently too many people quit their prescribed medication for a chronic disease. Therefore, the patient’s experience should not be ignored in studies investigating the effectiveness of pharmacotherapy, stresses Timo Purmonen, who is leading Oriola’s services related to market access and research of pharmaceuticals with marketing authorisation.


Is the patient the best expert on their treatment? This is a question we often get to respond to when we want to investigate how pharmacotherapy is realised as part of the patient’s daily routines. The patient does not necessarily have the best knowledge of various treatment options or which of them is medically the most suitable. However, the patient needs to understand why they have medication and how it is promoting their wellbeing.

According to research, a significant share of patients quit or take irregularly their medication prescribed for a chronic disease. There might be many different reasons behind this, which can only be found out by asking the patients themselves. Patient surveys can be used to investigate for example how pharmacotherapy affects a cancer patient’s quality of life, is the medicine administration device simple to use for an asthma patient, or what kind of support an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patient would need for their pharmacotherapy. Since only consumed medication helps, increasing adherence to treatment is one of the best ways to increase the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of pharmacotherapy.

The patient’s own experience is an underused information source in monitoring the realisation of treatment. In Finland, we have an existing research framework to acquire patient reported outcome (PRO) data: Oriola’s research pharmacy network that spans the whole country. Our collaboration with pharmacies in research activities is an internationally unique concept. Pharmacies are a natural place for conducting research, as their pharmaceutical professionals interact with customers daily about pharmacotherapy and can identify potentially suitable respondents for a specific study. For patients, participating in surveys is motivating as it enables them to contribute to the development of their own pharmacotherapy.
The data acquired through patient surveys can be enriched with healthcare register data. Combining national and local patient register data with patients’ reported information provides the best information on the overall effectiveness of pharmacotherapy. The findings of these real-world evidence (RWE) studies related to the effectiveness of medicines and how well they work in patients’ everyday lives contribute to data-driven decision-making and value-based healthcare. The role of real-world evidence study results has grown in recent years, for example in marketing authorisation or reimbursement applications, and this development is expected to continue. For pharmaceutical companies, the studies also offer a tool to collect data from wider and longer-term use of medicinal products already in the market.
Wider use of the patient’s perspective is central in developing pharmacotherapy, as the ultimate purpose of treatment is to improve people’s health and quality of life. Getting even more effective treatment available for patients should be the main reason to develop a new medicine. Since a euro can be used only once also in healthcare, it is important that resources are allocated to the most effective treatment options.
Timo Purmonen works at Oriola as Head of Data-Driven Business and Market Access. He has years of experience related to pharmacotherapies’ effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and market entry both from pharmaceutical industry and academic research perspectives.