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ELECTRONIC PDR FUTURE AVAILABILITY TO CONSUMERS

Executive Summary

ELECTRONIC PDR FUTURE AVAILABILITY TO CONSUMERS is one example of high-tech consumer information sources which may have an impact on the pharmaceutical industry. Institute for Alternative Futures Executive Director Clement Bezold predicted at the fourth annual meeting of the Natl. Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE) on Nov. 21 in Washington, D.C. Discussing various technological advances that may enhance patient drug education over the next 10 to 20 years, Bezold predicted "somewhere around 50% of most homes in the 1990s will have very powerful home information systems" that will be able to access information such as that contained in the Physicians Desk Reference. Bezold said he envisioned consumers using their home computers to "just call up and get the current information on the drug or drug class" of interest. Bezold forecast that electronic information systems for consumers in the future will provide comparative information on both cost and safety and efficacy profiles for different drugs. "Not only do you get a quality rating of pharmaceuticals," he said, but you also "know's who's selling at the lowest price this week." Speculating on how the pharmaceutical market will be affected by the greater accessibility of drug information to consumers, Bezold said: "The market will be much more sophisticated in judging the effectiveness and the adverse reactions of drugs and that information will be widely available and rapidly shared; that will have a tremendous impact, I would argue, on the market." Bezold cautioned, however, that some consumers will not have access to such information systems. Therefore, he predicted, "there will always be a floor, or a minimum, which a regulatory agency such as FDA will have to address." He suggested that there "will always be a need for a patient package insert, or something like that, to provide a minimum that has no cost attached to it -- that comes with what you are getting." At the meeting, entitled "High-Tech/High-Touch," NCPIE Chairman Paul Rogers announced the council's new patient information campaign directed towards third party payors and corporations. The new program is an extension of the 1983 initiated "Get the Answers" campaign, which focused on making consumers aware of what information they should know about the pharmaceuticals they are taking. The new program, funded by a grant from Exxon, provides companies with kits containing cameraready materials, such aas paycheck stuffers and cafeteria table cards, that encourage employees to ask their doctor, pharmacist, or nurse five questions about their Rx. The questions are: (1) "What is the name of the drug and what is it supposed to do?" (2) "How and when do I take it and for how long?" (3) "What foods, drinks, other medicines or other activities should I avoid when taking this drug?" (4) "Are there any side effects, and what do I do if they occur?" (5) "Is there any written information available about the drug?" The businesses so far agreeing to use the materials include Exxon, Revco, Cambell Soup, and Honeywell.
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