Education And Debate

Perspectives from the pharmaceutical industry

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 09 October 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:863
  1. Silvia Bonaccorso, vice president, Marketing and Medical Services (,
  2. Jeffrey L Sturchio, vice president, External Affairs, Europe, Middle East and Africa1
  1. 1 Merck & Co, One Merck Drive, Whitehouse Station, NJ 08889-0100 USA
  1. Correspondence to: S Bonaccorso

    What information do patients need about medicines? Partnership between health professionals and patients depends, in part, on the provision and exchange of accurate and reliable information about drugs, but who should provide it? We invited contributors to answer the question from the perspectives of patients, clinicians, and the pharmaceutical industry

    “Drugs don't work in patients who don't take them.” This famous observation by C Everett Koop, former US surgeon general, is reinforced by the findings of a recent World Health Organization report on adherence to long term treatments. On average, half of the patients prescribed drugs for chronic conditions (such as hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia, and diabetes) in developed countries stop taking them after a year, and adherence rates are even worse in developing countries. The WHO concludes that improving adherence requires multidisciplinary and multilevel interventions that take individual patients' experiences of illness seriously. The impact of non-compliance—through avoidable morbidity and mortality, the cost of additional medical interventions, and (indirectly) lost productivity at work—adds considerably to the costs of health care.1 …

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