In these pandemic times, patients in a global survey have demanded greater transparency and accountability, among a myriad other concerns.
In a survey conducted among a global audience of over 3,500 patients and pharmaceutical industry decision-makers, 43% of patients feared they could suffer more illness and/or death due to contaminated or tainted medications if pharmaceutical supply chains were not improved in these pandemic times of supply chain disruptions.
In the Asia Pacific region (APAC), over three-quarters of patients indicated that more regulation of pharmaceuticals was needed, and 95% of respondents who were pharma industry decision makers indicated that better cooperation between government/regulatory agencies and pharmaceutical-industry companies was needed to protect patients—the highest of any region.
In Europe, 64% of patients and 74% of industry decision-makers in the survey agreed to prompts that direct-to-patient delivery of medications by mail was a convenient and consistently safe way to receive medications—the lowest agreement level among regions.
In Latin America, 87% of patients reported switching pharmacies, providers or medications due to a poor experience. In North America, 33% of patients in the survey indicated they were somewhat or very familiar with the concept of pharmaceutical supply chain safety.
In the survey, patients were adults with medical health issues requiring prescription medication or treatment that was filled at a pharmacy. Pharmaceutical industry decision-makers were defined as executive-level leaders in healthcare, manufacturing, pharmacy retail, or transportation and logistics organizations that maintained operations in the pharmaceutical or biopharmaceutical supply chain.
- Around three-in-four patients surveyed stated they were either “somewhat” or “very concerned” about the ineffectiveness of medication in helping with their condition or illness.
- Around seven-in-10 respondents were concerned about receiving:
- an improper dose due to labeling or human errors
- stolen, contaminated, tainted, expired, or counterfeit medicines
- medications that were improperly handled/stored during transit and could have their efficacy damaged or diminished
- Patients in the survey knew a compromised supply chain puts medication quality and efficacy at risk and wanted better assurances their medications are safe and authentic. Nine-in-10 indicated it is “somewhat” or “very important” that they can verify a medication is not counterfeit nor tampered with and confirm temperature sensitive medications have stayed within the prescribed range.
- Patients in the survey also expected drug manufacturers to disclose how their medications are manufactured/handled (81%) and transported/stored (82%). Some 80% indicated that it is also important to verify the sources of medical ingredients including the country of origin and local standards for the medication itself.
- 79% of patients surveyed wanted to know that the source of their medication is sustainable with confirmation the manufacturer was using techniques to protect the environment, animal welfare, human communities, and public health.
- Over eight-in-10 respondents agreed to prompts that government/regulatory agencies and pharmaceutical companies needed to work better together to protect patients and ensure the medications they receive are safe and effective.
- Around 40% of patients and pharmaceutical industry decision-makers in the survey indicated that regulators, pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers are the ones most responsible for combatting counterfeit, stolen and contaminated medications. In 57% of respondents, the onus was put on those who manufacture, dispense and administer medications to implement trustworthy safety protocols, with hospitals bearing the brunt of the responsibility.
- 82% of millennials, compared to 61% of boomers, indicated they experienced issues either purchasing or taking medication in the past.
- 70% of all patients in the survey confirmed they had either changed prescribing providers, pharmacies, or medications in the past due to a poor experience. Among patients experiencing problems, a severe side effect was among the top five issues:
- Needed medication that was unavailable or out of stock (32%)
- Received only a partial amount due to unavailability at the time (29%)
- Found the same product at a lower price elsewhere (27%)
- Did not receive treatment on time or when needed (22%)
- Experienced a severe side effect (21%)
- 76% of patients in the survey had lingering concerns over medication affordability, and 73% had similar concerns over shortages.
- 85% of patients in the survey indicated that all pharmacies need to monitor the medications dispensed, including mail-order pharmacies.
- 84% of pharmaceutical industry decision-makers felt they were prepared to comply with traceability and transparency mandates. Three-quarters indicated they had already deployed location services technology or plan to in the next year.
- The biggest challenge pharma-industry leaders in the survey were facing was being able to manufacture and move enough medications to meet patients’ needs, in addition to regulatory delays, production limits, distribution and storage problems; shipping capacity constraints and transportation delays.
- 92% of pharma-industry decision makers in the survey indicated planning to increase investments in pharmaceutical manufacturing and supply chain monitoring tools next year.
According to Christanto Suryadarma, Southeast Asia (SEA) Sales Vice President, Zebra Technologies Asia Pacific, which commissioned the survey: “While meeting regulatory standards has been a primary focus for pharmaceutical industry leaders, these evolving patient demands have shown that more needs to be done. It is crucial for manufacturers, government agencies, pharmacies and healthcare providers to work hand-in-hand to win consumers’ trust in the supply chain.”