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Scaling noncompliance

Article-Scaling noncompliance

Can you make following a drug regimen just as much fun for patients as taking the stairs? Volkswagon’s awards program, The Fun Theory (, recognizes that “fun is the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better.”

Visit the site and you’ll enjoy watching the “Piano Staircase.” No one likes taking the stairs, but add a melody and people will scale them with a smile. (I thank Jonathan Richman ( for calling out this behavior changer out on Twitter under @jonmrich).

So I wonder: could drug packaging be made more “fun” to use? I asked Derek Rago, vice president of strategy and marketing at McKesson Patient Relationship Solutions (MPRS), and Kirk Kaminsky, senior vice president, U.S. Pharmaceutical Packaging at McKesson, for their input. 

“To us, fun really means engagement,” says Rago. “It is important for patients to be engaged in therapy.” MPRS relies on several tools to engage patients in adherence programs that offer patient copay savings along with ongoing patient support. One such program for a chronic-illness drug with several competitors enrolled more than 190,000 patients into the program. Participating patients filled on average 2.4 times more Rxs over 12 months than a control group of similar patients prescribed the same drug but not in the program (over a 50% increase). “MPRS programs can be made even more engaging and personal by letting patients earn points for healthy behaviors like refilling prescriptions or reading blogs on healthy behavior. These points can then be used to acquire other therapeutically relevant tools and support to further elevate the level of patient engagement in our customers’ programs.”

Packaging traditionally hasn’t been a major part of such programs, but Kaminsky senses a paradigm shift. “Compliance packaging can drive adherence, and manufacturers are moving toward it,” he says. Adds Rago: “There is no silver bullet to driving adherence, but packaging is critical.”

McKesson is excited about its use of Burgopak, which Kaminsky says offers an aspect of fun. Upon opening, the paperboard-and-blister-package combination presents the patient with medication and supporting materials in an almost interactive fashion. McKesson’s packaging division is working closely with MPRS to couple Burgopak with LoyaltyScript cards for copay assistance and other permissions-based program benefits. “It is an opportunity to engage the patient in a broader relationship,”says Rago.
Kaminsky and Rago say that the solution can be used for both sample and trade packages to help reinforce adherence with consistent tools and cues. “The touch and feel of packaging is key,” says Kaminsky. And Rago says that Burgopak can provide brand differentiation.

So could a video of a patient opening a Burgopak appear in The Fun Theory program? Probably not this year, since the call for entries ends in mid-November. But I am hopeful that this will be an annual program and a few drug manufacturers will enter next time around because following a prescribed drug regimen therapy can be as beneficial as taking the stairs.

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