PHARMACY

Health costs curbing Rx compliance as more Americans turn to Internet

BY Jim Frederick

NEW YORK Rising drug costs and a weakening economy kept nearly 40 million U.S. adults from filling a prescription medication in the past year, a new study has found.

The steeper out-of-pocket costs consumers are bearing at the pharmacy counter and at their doctors’ offices are also fueling an accelerating movement among Americans to online searches for health information, according to a new research report from Manhattan Research’s Cybercitizen Health. The web, the market research firm noted today, has become “an increasingly important health resource for consumers curbing their spending on doctor’s visits and medications” in a down economy.

“For those struggling to afford healthcare, online channels have become increasingly important resources,” noted Manhattan Research, a division of Decision Resources, Inc. “Over 145 million consumers are online for health, and this year’s Cybercitizen Health) study saw the Internet surpass doctors as the top source for obtaining health and medical information.”

The study found that women and patients with neurological and mental health conditions were the most likely to give up?their medication due to cost. Patients suffering from conditions like fibromyalgia, inflammatory bowel disease, generalized anxiety disorder, chronic bronchitis and pain were most likely to skip filling a prescription because of the cost, researchers reported.

“Healthcare costs and accessibility are major barriers for Americans, and many are turning to the Internet as an alternative resource for managing their health and making treatment decisions,” said Meredith Abreu Ressi, vice president of research at Manhattan Research. “While the Internet is an invaluable health resource for patient education and support, it doesn’t replace the expertise of a trained medical professional.”

Ressi urged health providers and other stakeholders to embrace the Internet as a way of reaching those patients more effectively. “Healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies and other organizations can use online media to inform consumers of the importance of professional medical attention to their long-term health and to raise awareness of patient assistance programs,” she said.

A complimentary “State of eHealth” report is available at http://www.manhattanresearch.com/research/white-papers/state-of-ehealth.aspx.

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