How adherence helps fight cancer

This month, RxSafe continues its new blog series, entitled: “How adherence helps with __________ (fill in the blank).”

The series is designed to give pharmacists and pharmacy owners the latest data on adherence, and how it can help your patients’ health -- and your pharmacy’s bottom line.

This month’s focus: cancer.

As every pharmacist knows, cancer is a very complex disease state, with an enormous human and financial toll. Nearly 1 in 6 deaths in the U.S. is due to cancer, and national costs to treat the disease are expected to reach $156 billion by 2020, up from $125 billion in 2010.1  

In 2019, doctors will diagnose 1.6 million new cases of cancer. Oncologists are prescribing more oral chemotherapy agents than ever before.This leads to ever more complicated medication regimens, which can pose additional health risks when integrated into patients’ lifestyles and existing drug regimens.2

Non-adherence for oral chemo is rampant

Clearly, non-adherence can lead not only to lowered efficacy in cancer therapy, but also an increased risk of adverse drug events. Unfortunately, some studies have shown oral chemotherapy adherence rates of less than 20 percent.3

cancer drugs adherence"Antinauseants" by Derek K. Miller (1969-2011) is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

This is especially troubling when you consider that new cases of cancer are expected to increase about 70 percent over the next two decades.4

With the rise in availability and increasing use of oral anticancer agents, concerns about adherence to prescribed regimens will become an increasingly important issue in oncology.

But, the news isn’t all bad

According to a recent study conducted by oncology nurses, maximizing adherence to oral chemotherapy can have many positive outcomes, including dramatic increases in overall survival and life expectancy for cancer patients.5

Another study, which measured interventions to improve adherence to oral chemotherapy over a 12-week period, found that, patients took, on average, 89.3% of their prescribed oral chemotherapy over the 12 weeks.6

Adherence works... but how?

We know that improved medication adherence works. Your patients are healthier, and they refill their prescriptions more regularly, which is great for your pharmacy’s bottom line.

But how do you make an adherence program work at your independent retail pharmacy? If you’ve ever considered strip packaging to improve patient adherence, you’ve probably heard about several problems:

  • It’s expensive. Most systems, plus the inventory to fill them, cost more than $300,000.

  • The “exception” is the rule. You often end up hand-filling “exception” trays because the strip packaging machine can’t store all the different types of NDCs; and cassettes don’t match today’s new generics.

  • Rework is a killer. To correct errors that find their way to the pouch, you have to cut open defective pouches, refill them by hand and tape the pouches back together.

  • Verification is cumbersome. It’s tough for pharmacists to manually inspect hundreds of multi-med pouches. You can buy a bulky “add on” inspection unit … but that takes up additional space and is tremendously expensive.

Introducing RapidPakRx™

RapidPakRx is the first-ever system for adherence packaging designed specifically for retail pharmacies to fill “on-demand” at the lowest possible cost. RapidPakRx:

  • Is less costly to acquire and maintain (about half the cost of competitors)

  • Says “goodbye” to hand-filled exception trays and constant rework

  • Makes verification easy with built-in, 3-step machine-vision verification technology

RapidPakRx runs 20 “smart” bulk-loaded universal cartridges that dispense any oral solid medications such as gel caps, half tabs, capsules, tablets, new generics, supplements, vitamins — even OTC medications, etc. — without calibration.

And now, for a limited time, customers that purchase a RapidPakRx system will be automatically enrolled in the PakMyMeds Network. PakMyMeds Network is a new, no-hassle solution to connect independent pharmacy owners with local patients who want an easier way to take their medications.

Using sophisticated online and mobile ad networks, social media, geotargeting and geofencing, PakMyMeds Network will advertise -- in a 50-mile circle around participating pharmacies -- to patients who could benefit from improved medication adherence and/or are searching for adherence packaging services. Patients who opt-in will then be connected with a partner pharmacy in the PakMyMeds Network.

To learn more about the RapidPakRx, visit our product page, schedule a demo with your salesperson, or call now at (877) 672-4956.

Sources: 1-World Health Organization 2016. 2-BMC Research Notes: 2017. 3-Journal of National Cancer Institute 2015. 4-Cancer Fact Sheet, NCI, 2018. 5-Seminars in Oncology Nursing, 2011. 6-Journal of the American Association for Cancer Education, 2014.

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