Eight years ago, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield held a community engagement campaign to increase the use of generic drugs across upstate New York. Working with local medical societies and pharmacy groups, the non-profit health plan created a cartoon-like pill bottle mascot, complete with a hat and Groucho glasses, to communicate the message that "brand name drugs are just generics in disguise."
The campaign, which ran for a few years, convinced many in the area to ask their doctors or pharmacists if generic drugs were right for them. Between October 2005 and October 2009, generic prescription fill rates across upstate New York regions increased by 13-17 percentage points—representing community-wide savings of about $835 million.
So this year, when Excellus decided to launch a community engagement campaign to educate patients to take their medications as directed, it decided to go with a similar style. Excellus created a new cartoon character—TAD, for "take as directed"—who is portrayed as a superhero, sporting a cape and a belt.
"We decided to build on the success of our generics campaign by using a similarly stylized pill bottle image to carry our medication adherence message, which is 'If you're not taking your prescriptions as directed, you're taking a chance,'" says Mona Chitre, vice president and chief pharmacy officer of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.