"It's troubling that almost one-third of UC patients are not taking medication because the standard of care is that all patients with a diagnosis of UC should be on medication to maintain control of the condition and reduce the likelihood of relapse," says Dr. Rubin. "The other challenge we need to address is compliance. More convenient dosing regimens such as once-daily dosage formulations may be part of the solution."
Bridging the physician/patient gap
Patients are also normalizing their experiences with flare-ups, a serious worsening of UC symptoms. UC patients reported an average of eight flare-ups per year. Four out of five (81 percent) of those surveyed say they consider the number of flare-ups they experience to be "normal" for their condition. On the other hand, in a survey of gastroenterologists also done as part of UC: NORMAL, physicians reported that a "typical" number of flare-ups per year on average is three among all patients (2 flare-ups if condition is mild; 4 if condition is moderate; 5 if condition is severe).
UC patients admit that they do not report all of their flare-ups to their physicians, making it difficult for physicians to understand the impact of UC on their patients' lives. One-third (34 percent) said they are sometimes reluctant to tell their doctor about flare-ups.
"If patients are experiencing multiple flare-ups a year, they should feel empowered to talk to their physicians openly about their disease and ask if their current therapy is appropriate for them," says Dr. Rubin. "As physicians, we need to ask questions to encourage patients to be forthcoming and open with us about the challenges they face and the concerns they have."
As a company committed to educating patients and working with
physicians, Shire is developing a program that will launch this
fall and is designed to help foster increased discussion between