The greatest societal impact of smart drug delivery platforms will be seen in improved public health arising from increased patient adherence. Poor adherence is linked to demographic factors, incorrect patient beliefs about costs and benefits, and perceived patient burden regarding obtaining and using medication. It is estimated that up to 50% of patients fail to medicate as planned, and for chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, this can cause deterioration of the joints from physical wear of the bones, leading to further hospitalization, patient distress and financial burden.
Ultimately, non-adherence contributes to the premature deaths of nearly 200,000 Europeans annually. Conversely, the potential societal impact of improved adherence is huge – in one study, patients who showed improved adherence had a 13% reduction in the risk of hospitalization or emergency room visits – and emerging drug delivery technologies will further accelerate this trend.