Claus Møldrup, a former professor at the University of Copenhagen, and his 12-person strong team have created and launched a scientifically validated app that actually makes it meaningful for patients to take their medication . Patients are rewarded with the opportunity to donate money to patient charities for free. All they have to do is take their meds as recommended by their HCP and share their experiences and opinion of their meds it the app. This collected data is then utilised – in anonymous form – in scientific studies. Pharmaceutical companies can also purchase this anonymous real-world data, enabling them to help them create better and more user-friendly products. DrugStars uses the revenue from the sale of this anonymous information to pay for the donations made by the patients.
The award-winning app DrugStars is expected to reach 1 million patient medication reviews in 2019. DrugStars has already attracted over 200,000 active users, donating more than £200,000 to more than 70 patient charities – including 20 charities in the UK. DrugStars is transforming the everyday experience of taking meditation into a more meaningful, purpose-filled and fun task for patients across Scandinavia, the Baltics, the US and, especially, the UK, where the app if currently focusing its efforts.
DrugStars is an example of a new trend in the digital economy, where the ethical monetization of information is integral to the business model, with users being actively rewarded for sharing their information – in this case the reward is in the form of free donations.
“The goal for DrugStars is to transform the taking of medication, from being a necessary evil into a necessary good. For many people, having to take medication remains a daily challenge that most would prefer to be free of. So we thought, why not reward patients for this challenge? Why are most patients only shown the stick and not the carrot?” asks Claus Møldrup, DrugStars CEO and founder.
Claus Møldrup was previously a Professor of Social Pharmacy at the University of Copenhagen , and it was his research into – and knowledge of – patients’ behavioural patterns and motivation in relation to taking medications that gave him the idea to start DrugStars back in 2016.
“Much of what I did at the university was about improving patients’ treatments based on insights from their experiences with their meds. It’s nice to be academic about it, but my ambitions were to be able to make a real difference for patients and their experiences with medication.” Ans so DrugStars was born.
Claus Møldrup explains that the initial focus of the DrugStars app was on helping patients who forget to take their medication. Once again, the data was clear, with only 30 percent of non-adherence problems actually the result of the patient forgetfulness. The remaining 70 percent were due to some form of negative experience the patients had with their medication. It quickly became clear that the DrugStars app would need to address both of these adherence issues in order to truly help patients. And to do this, it was necessary to collect data – real-world data (RWD) generated every day for every medication and in every country around the world.
Today, DrugStars generates very strong RWD sets from real users, and with their full acceptance. This RWD includes whether the patient has faith in their treatment, whether they feel it is even necessary for them to be taking the medication. Whether they are troubled by any side effects. And whether they have complied and taken the medication as prescribed. This information is modelled around the medicine at a brand level, allowing DrugStars to broker and sell insights – in an anonymous form – back to the pharmaceutical companies. Similarly, j pharmaceutical companies can also purchase the anonymous user assessments of their competitor’s drugs, and thus increase their real-world knowledge.
“DrugStars deliver real-world experiences and real-world evidence and outcomes in the form of data on specific drugs in an anonymous, aggregated format, allowing companies to utilise them to improve their offerings and ultimately benefit patients.”
A voice for patients around the world
With the high volume of drug reviews, DrugStars aims to offer patient reviews of all medications – like a Trustpilot for medicines, explains Claus Møldrup.
“We hope to see DrugStars develop into a voice for patients around the world. In price negotiations between pharma companies and the paying authorities, we envision our data on user acceptance of a drug being used as an essential and valuable parameter. Pharma companies’ clinical studies and health economics analyses currently don’t reflect anything regarding the patient’s acceptance of their medicine, for instance whether the tablet is difficult to swallow, whether they give up on their prescribed course of treatment and so forth. This type of data is clearly missing today. But DrugStars can deliver it, making us a growing factor in the pharmaceutical conversation between Payers, Providers, Patients and Pharma,” says Claus Møldrup, adding that the data clearly shows a direct correlation between a patient’s acceptance of a product and their compliance with the prescribed treatment.
A tool at the pharmacy and at the GP’s office
According to Claus Møldrup, it makes perfect sense for pharmacy staff to utilise DrugStars as a dialogue tool with their customers.
“Patients who use the DrugStars app would be able to show their GP and their pharmacist exactly how they are doing with their medication. For example, pharmacy staff would be able to see when a patient isn’t comfortable with their current treatment, and they would be able to ask more informed questions, bringing everyone closer to a solution that benefits all parties. Now this dialogue tool is here in the form of our app,” says Claus Møldrup proudly.
DrugStars is currently in negotiations in the UK to promote the app directly to pharmacies. Allowing DrugStars and the pharmacies to give something back to the health service in the form of more empowered and confident consumers.