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Executive Summary

MEDICATION INFORMATION CAMPAIGN FOR ELDERLY PLANNED FOR 1987 in the autumn by the National Council on Patient Information & Education (NCPIE). With initial funding of $200,000 from the Retirement & Research Foundation, NCPIE is planning to "develop media materials that promote knowledge and enable communication with health care providers about prescription medicines." The campaign will include TV, radio, print ads, and pharmacy and doctor counter cards that will urge older persons to ask for more information about their medications. The campaign will also include a brochure for health professionals urging them to take the initiative in improving communication with older patients. The campaign for next year is an outgrowth of a report prepared by NCPIE under a grant from The Commonwealth Fund. The report discusses 18 priorities "believed to be most important and relevant" in improving drug use in the elderly. The report is entitled "Priorities and Approaches For Improving Prescription Medicine Use By Older Americans." Details on it were presented by NCPIE Project Director Robert Bachman at the group's fifth annual meeting in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 4. Improving the awareness of generic drugs among elderly patients is one of the priority educational strategies addressed by the report. For example, the report notes that one approach to increase awareness of less expensive therapies is to "develop television and radio PSAs [public sevice announcements] and posters to urge consumers to ask physicians and pharmacists about less expensive alternatives with equal therapeutic effect (i.e., generic drugs)." Those media, the report states, should "emphasize that all drugs approved by the FDA meet similar requirements for safety and effectiveness." The report also cites other approaches, not related to generic drug use, that can be used in promoting awareness of cost reduction to older consumers and their caregivers. For example, the report suggests developing "media messages that provide tips for cutting drug costs, such as purchasing in quantity, storing drugs properly to get full value, [and] buying the least expensive form of a drug (e.g., liquid vs. capsules.)" In a foreword to the report, NCPIE explained that the document "is offered as a program planning tool for organizations with an interest in issues related to medication use and as a mandate to serve or represent the older population." NCPIE "developed these ideas in planning a mass media campaign to improve prescription drug use among older people," the report states.

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