Introduction: Effectiveness of oral anticoagulants (OACs) is critically dependent on patients’ adherence to intake regimens. We studied the relative impact of attributes related to effectiveness, safety, convenience, and costs on the value of OAC therapy from the perspective of patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation.
Methods: Four attributes were identified by literature review and expert interviews: effectiveness (risk of ischemic stroke), safety (risk of major bleeding, minor bleeding, gastrointestinal complaints), convenience (intake frequency, diet restrictions, international normalized ratio [INR] blood monitoring, pill type/intake instructions), and out-of-pocket costs. Focus groups were held in Spain, Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom (N = 48) to elicit patients’ preferences through the use of the analytical hierarchy process method.
Results: Effectiveness (60%) and side effects (27%) have a higher impact on the perceived value of OACs than drug convenience (7%) and out-of-pocket costs (6%). As for convenience, eliminating monthly INR monitoring was given the highest priority (40%), followed by reducing diet restrictions (27%), reducing intake frequency (17%) and improving the pill type/intake instructions (15%). The most important side effect was major bleeding (75%), followed by minor bleeding (15%) and gastrointestinal complaints (10%). Furthermore, 71% of patients preferred once-daily intake to twice-daily intake.
Discussion: Although the relative impact of convenience on therapy value is small, patients have different preferences for options within convenience criteria. Besides considerations on safety and effectiveness, physicians should also discuss attributes of convenience with patients, as it can be assumed that alignment to patient preferences in drug prescription and better patient education could result in higher adherence.