Novo Nordisk ties discounts to adherence in SMS pilot

Danish pharma company Novo Nordisk

Novo Nordisk is working with a digital health start-up to link better medication adherence to lower medicine costs for diabetes patients in the US through a text messaging pilot.

The Danish pharma company hopes to reach 10,000 patients this year through its collaboration with San Francisco-based Sempre Health, which specialises in improving both medicine costs and adherence.

It does this by working with health plans to provide Sempre members with rewards, such as lower co-payments if they fill their prescriptions on time.

Steve Albers, corporate VP of market access and public affairs for Novo Nordisk in the US, said: "This is the first of several innovations we plan to pilot to help reduce how much patients pay for their diabetes medicines at the pharmacy. And because consistently taking medicines is important for blood sugar control, we're keen to see Sempre Health's adherence approach support patients."

Founded in 2015 and officially launched last July, Sempre Health has partnerships with a number of US pharmacies and a range of text messaging-based programmes based on the idea of patients sharing in the savings that being adherent to treatment generates for healthcare systems.

CEO Anurati Mathur said: "We are excited to combine Sempre's nuanced approach to affordability and adherence with Novo Nordisk's innovative portfolio of medications. Savings are seamlessly applied to patients' co-pays wherever they normally fill their prescriptions."

Pharmaceutical companies in the US are coming under increasing pressure to justify prices, with FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb last month speaking out against pharma, insurers and pharmacy benefit managers.

Working with Sempre Health may be one way for Novo to deflect some of that criticism, building on its pledge last December to follow Allergan and restrict annual price rises to the single-digits.

Its work with Sempre also continues the trend of adherence featuring heavily within pharma’s use of mobile technology, as seen in recent initiatives by Boehringer Ingelheim and Janssen.