Patients come up with many reasons for not taking their medications. And when the patient is from a different cultural background, he or she may have suspicions about details ranging from the color and size of pills to the kind of liquid they've been prescribed. These hesitations on the part of ethnic consumers mean they are not filling subscriptions so pharma companies plan to improve their marketing to these demographic groups.
A new study shows that up to 50% of all prescriptions are not filled which results in a significant revenue loss for pharma companies and increases the risk of poor medical outcomes. Emerging majority populations are particularly vulnerable to specific health complaints. For example, over 11% of the U.S. Hispanic population suffers from diabetes and these patients often fail to adhere to medication guidelines. In total, researchers trace about 125,000 deaths annually to patients who are not taking medications properly.
A complicated web of health practices and beliefs, cultural norms, communications styles with medical professionals and family dynamics are all seen playing a role in this problem. Researchers believe part of the solution can be found in improved advertising. Currently, about 5% of consumer advertising budgets can be classified multicultural. Yet, consumers with nonwhite cultural backgrounds make up 40% of the population.
While some marketers are distributing materials in native languages to improve compliance, researchers say more can be done. Some medical centers and pharmacies are using direct mail or email to remind consumers to refill prescriptions. Researchers are also encouraging pharmaceutical companies to develop multi-channel programs directed to specific ethnic groups. These programs can help healthcare providers and pharmaceutical firms to educate reluctant consumers on the importance of taking their recommended medications.[Sources: Weinstein, Deborah. Cultural incompetence. Mmm-online.com. 13 Feb. 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2012; Blueprint for an Effective Cross-Cultural. Global-ny.com. February 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2012]