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Health Consumers Look to Pharma Companies for Prescription Cost Assistance
Date:11/24/2008

New v-Fluence Interactive study shows patients turning to the programs pharmaceutical companies offer to help pay for their prescriptions

St. Louis, MO (PRWEB) November 23, 2008 -- As more patients seek ways to address the rising cost of medications, some are turning to the programs pharmaceutical companies offer to help pay for their prescriptions, a new study from v-Fluence Interactive shows.

"We've seen a marked increase in searches for 'patient' and 'prescription' assistance programs in our research," says Jay Byrne, v-Fluence president. "In some cases, this increased search interest connects directly to the patient assistance programs certain pharma companies have launched in recent years to address affordability issues. However, some company efforts are not easily found when consumers conduct these searches."

Consumer interest in pharma patient assistance programs is likely to grow as recent media reports and polling suggest economic pressures are making it more difficult for consumers to pay for their medications. "The big challenge for pharmaceutical companies will be ensuring that their online patient assistance-oriented content is well positioned to capture this interest," Byrne says. "The Web is increasingly the place where consumers and patients look first and most often for this type of information."

The v-Fluence study examined how often consumers use 260 different search terms relating to prescription medications and their costs between October 2007 and last month. Findings include:

  • Search interest in the "Merck Patient Assistance Program" is the highest among all pharma company programs, followed by "Abbott Patient Assistance Program." (See Chart 1 below for a company-by-company breakdown);
  • Among the pharma company-specific programs, some have seen big gains in search interest. They include the "Sanofi Aventis Patient Assistance" (a 380 percent increase), "Astrazeneca Patient Assistance Program" (300 percent increase), "Novo Nordisk Patient Assistance" (122 percent) and "Takeda Patient Assistance Program" (104 percent increase);
  • Search interest for the pharma company-sponsored "Partnership for Prescription Assistance" coalition, a group formed in 2005 to address affordability issues, has waned in the past year (a 38 percent decline). Still, this term remains the most frequently searched term in the v-Fluence study;
  • Overall search interest for "discount drug mart" and "discount prescription drugs" remains strong, growing by double-digit percentages in the past year (14 percent and 30 percent, respectively). While the v-Fluence findings don't discern search intent, it's a fair assumption that these consumers are looking to purchase medications, Byrne says

"Our findings reflect the fact that pharma companies have increasingly been including 'patient assistance' language in their offline advertising--and that some have been more successful than others at nestling their message in consumers' minds," Byrne says.

Background on v-Fluence's research methodology: v-Fluence's research team analyzed the year-to-year volume of more than 260 "prescription affordability"-related search terms, using a sampling from various major search engines and proprietary tools to weed out irrelevant terms and index comparative volumes.

About v-Fluence Interactive: With locations in St. Louis, San Diego, Chicago and Washington, DC, v-Fluence is a leading provider of Internet marketing and online issues management tools and services. v-Fluence, recognized as one of the fastest-growing privately held companies by INC magazine the past two consecutive years, provides major brands and organizations in key food, health, energy and other market sectors the online analytics, counsel and engagement support they require to be measurably successful on the Web, in blogs and beyond.

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Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/reports_polling/blogs_and_beyond/prweb1654494.htm


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