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AstraZeneca Survey: Physicians Play Critical Role in Helping Patients Take Medicines as Prescribed

WILMINGTON, Del., October 13, 2008 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Affordability concerns and the perceived lack of need for a medicine are the top reasons why patients do not take their medicines as prescribed, according to a recent AstraZeneca survey of more than 200 office-based physicians.

The physicians ranked the top reasons why their patients do not take their prescription medicines as instructed:


    -- Affordability of medication                            20%
    -- Patient does not feel they need the medication         20%
    -- Side effects of medication                             17%
    -- Forgetfulness                                          16%
    -- Lack of concern for their condition                     5%
    -- Lack of information on disease or treatment             5%
    -- Lack of information on the drug they are prescribed     5%
    -- Lack of family/social support                           5%
    -- Low satisfaction with the drug they are prescribed      3%
    -- Poor relationship with myself or another physician      2%
    -- Patient received prior recommendation against the drug  2%
      (either by another health care professional or patient)

The failure to take medicines as prescribed is a major public health issue estimated to cost the U.S. economy $100 billion a year(1). In lieu of increasing concerns around health care costs, physicians play a critical role in emphasizing that patients should follow their medication regimen in order to experience healing and avoid a more serious health issue.

"When patients follow the treatment plan that their physicians advise, they are more likely to experience the full benefits of their medicines and ultimately lead healthier lives," said Dr. Karen Smith, Vice President, External Medical Relations, AstraZeneca.

The physicians also ranked which of the following entities has most influence over whether or not their patients take a medicine as prescribed:


    -- Physician                                 64%
    -- Caregiver                                 30%
    -- Health Insurance/Managed Care Company      6%

AstraZeneca's pharmaceutical sales specialists provide educational resources to help physicians have more open, frequent discussions with their patients about how their medicines are working and whether they have affordability concerns. The company is also taking action by:

-- Offering prescription savings programs for patients who may have difficulty affording their AstraZeneca medicines, and ensuring that physicians' offices can share information on these programs with their patients.

-- Providing text messaging and interactive software to provide one-on-one patient support and remind patients to take their medicines as prescribed.

-- Using e-prescribing technology to develop a program that sends an automatic reminder from a physician to a patient who has not filled his or her prescription in a specific time period.

-- Providing a checklist that patients can bring to the doctor's office to keep track of their medicines and whether or not they are taking them as directed.

This month, AstraZeneca is partnering with the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE) to help patients and physicians have better conversations about the importance of following a treatment regimen. NCPIE hosts a "Talk About Prescriptions Month" every year, and has conducted significant research to understand why patients do not take medicines as prescribed.

"When a medicine is part of a treatment plan, it is vitally important that patients and their healthcare providers communicate effectively about the value it can have if used appropriately," noted Ray Bullman, NCPIE Executive Vice President. "This two-way communication includes patients sharing an up-to-date list of all medicines they are taking, and physicians making sure their patients fully understand their medicines' instructions for use, precautions, and what to do if a side effect is suspected. That quality of dialogue with every prescription will go a long way towards patients achieving better health outcomes."

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a major international healthcare business engaged in the research, development, manufacturing and marketing of meaningful prescription medicines and supplier for healthcare services. AstraZeneca is one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies with healthcare sales of $29.55 billion and is a leader in gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory, oncology and infectious disease medicines. In the United States, AstraZeneca is a $13.35 billion dollar healthcare business with 12,200 employees committed to improving people's lives. AstraZeneca is listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (Global) as well as the FTSE4Good Index.

For more information visit

(1) Dezii CM. Medication noncompliance: what is the problem? Manag Care. 2000;9:7-12.

CONTACT: Tony Jewell of AstraZeneca, +1-302-885-4594,

Web site:

Ticker Symbol: (NYSE:AZN)

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Posted: October 2008