The average U.S. consumer fills 12 prescriptions for medication every year. These touch-points between consumers and pharmaceutical companies create an 1111309_pillsopportunity to share information, especially when it comes to understanding what the drug is designed to treat and how it may interact with other medications. Survey results released by ORC Guideline, an infoGROUP company, indicate that consumers could benefit from an increase in information when it comes to prescription medications.

Currently, about half of consumers rely on their physicians or pharmacists to give them information about the medications they are taking. But these sources of information are clearly not sufficient. Here’s what consumers indicate are common problems when it comes to prescriptions:

  • Aware of interactions with other prescription medications they take: 60%
  • Aware of interactions with other over-the-counter medications they take: 58%
  • Stop taking medication because they do not have enough information about it: 20%

Consumers are accustomed to receiving pages of densely printed material along with their prescription medications. About 2/3’s of consumers attempt to read this data. However, nearly 1 in 4 consumers, especially those between the ages of 45 and 64, find the information hard to understand.  Christine W. Dalzell, Ph.d, senior managing director at ORC Guideline points out that “ ‘comprehension confusion’ obviously has the potential to put consumers at great risk.” Dazell also cites statistics that indicate up to 500,000 adverse medication events occur annually as a result of consumer misunderstanding about prescription drug labeling. Manufacturers who can improve their drug information releases, by making the data easier to read and understand, could gain an edge with consumers.

[Sources: Spiegel, Alix. Selling Sickness, NPR, 10.13.09; ORC Guideline release, 9.22.09]