Innovating to improve medicine adherence: Elevating diabetes care

For people living with diabetes, medication adherence is a critical aspect of managing the condition and living healthier lives.

New Delhi [India], November 2 (ANI/Mediawire): A total of roughly 77 million are diagnosed with diabetes, making the country home to the second-largest population with diabetes in the world.

The widespread and rising trend of diabetes is a growing public health threat. This can be attributed to several factors, including lifestyle changes due to the rapid rise of urbanization, which can lead to decreasing physical activity, shifting dietary habits, and the rise of environments that contribute to obesity.

To manage diabetes effectively, good control of blood glucose is imperative. This can be achieved by combining healthy lifestyle behaviors and anti-diabetic treatment.

However, despite the advancements in diabetes management, nearly 76.6 per cent of people living with diabetes in India still report uncontrolled blood sugar levels. This is driven primarily by non-adherence to treatment, a well-documented problem across diabetes care.

Significant issues with adherence persist across geographies and therapy areas, not just diabetes, leading to non-optimal care and delays in recovery.
[i] Aside from continuous progress in healthcare technologies and the regular launch of new medicines every year, according to the WHO, the most effective intervention to improve the health of the overall population is to increase adherence to treatments.

[ii] Today, addressing non-adherence must become a critical priority so more people can stay within the desired glucose range.

There are several reasons for poor medicine adherence, including lack of access to healthcare resources, complex medicine regimens and frequent pill intake, fear of side effects, poor understanding of the condition, and more.

For example, 40 per cent of adults experience difficulty swallowing pills, of whom 14 per cent delay taking their medicine, and 8 per cent even skip the dose entirely. This can be influenced by the design of the tablet – including size, surface, edges, or an unpleasant taste or smell, making it harder to swallow.

To improve adherence across people living with diabetes, driving innovation in medicines and the services that go with them can help bridge existing gaps in care.

Healthcare practitioners can thus equip patients with the right tools and solutions to simplify the treatment process and empower adherence, leading to better health outcomes.

Research has paved the way for incremental innovations, which reimagine and alter existing treatments to encourage better compliance. One example of this in diabetes care is the single daily pill – an alternative to multiple tablets with more frequent and complicated schedules.

To alleviate people’s fears regarding pill intake, such as worries of choking while ingesting the tablet, there are now tablets available with a special coating which makes it easier to swallow. In turn, it can make diabetes simpler to manage and improve treatment compliance, helping people achieve better glycemic control.

In addition to such solutions, we must also look to strengthen other factors that can impact adherence, such as ensuring more meaningful doctor-patient consultations, clearly communicating details of treatments, and suggesting additional interventions such as reminders or other personalized solutions that can help patients follow their prescribed treatment properly.

Addressing poor adherence to medicines among patients with chronic diseases like diabetes is an opportunity to maximize health outcomes and the efficiency of health systems.

Understanding the drivers of poor adherence and investing in research to bridge these gaps with new innovative medicines and changes in care delivery are a need of the hour.

When done at scale with the support of multiple stakeholders, this can have enormous gains for people in India’s diabetes population and the healthcare system. It can advance an era of patient-centric care and help people with diabetes live healthier lives.

For people to better manage diabetes, my Mantra is, “Eat Slowly, Eat Less, Eat on Time, Eat Right, Walk More, Do Yoga, Sleep Well and on Time, and Smile with one hour of Digital Detox.”

Issued in public interest by Abbott for general awareness. The information mentioned in this article is only suggestive and shall not be considered as a substitute for doctor’s advice nor as any recommendations from Abbott. Please consult your doctor for more information.
[i] Jose J, Bond C. Medication Adherence: still a problem. Int J Pharm Practice. 2021;29(2):93-95. doi:10.1093/ijpp/riaa019
[ii] Brown MT, Bussell JK. Medication adherence: WHO cares. Mayo Clin Proc. 2011;86(4):304-314. doi:10.4065/mcp.2010.0575

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