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Labelling Matters

Patients with chronic conditions typically only adhere to 50-60% of medications as prescribed, despite irrefutable evidence that their treatments will increase life quality and expectancy. Non-compliance has been linked to worse health outcomes, more frequent hospitalisations and increased costs. Indeed, a 2003 WHO report stated that more health benefits worldwide would result from improving adherence to existing therapies than from the development of new ones (1). Any intervention that stimulates better compliance to essential medications – even slightly – may therefore play a meaningful role in enhancing public health.

Factors influencing non-adherence are varied, but largely predictable and range from the preventable, such as patients forgetting or misunderstanding, to the non-preventable, such as life-threatening side effects. However, one significant, but often overlooked, enabler of patient attrition is the label.

The importance of labelling gets very little exposure. Nonetheless, product packaging can be a key determinant of patient retention and better health outcomes. The rationale is straightforward: if someone cannot understand the instructions for use, they will be much more inclined to give up. As the cost of drug development escalates and budgetary pressure on the global healthcare economy grows, perhaps it is time for the pharmaceutical industry to review the role of the label in alleviating the expense and implications of patient attrition.

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Mark Cusworth is the Vice President of R&D at PRISYM ID. He has over 15 years of experience heading up a team providing off-theshelf and tailored solutions to clinical trial companies. During this time, Mark has seen many changes to the industry, including significant tightening of regulations, challenges of globalisation as well as the shift from subject-based to interactive response technology trials. 
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Mark Cusworth
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