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DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens is recognizing medication adherence rates as high as 96% through its hepatitis C therapy management programs across its specialty pharmacy, the pharmacy operator announced Monday.
This comes as the Food and Drug Administration recently approved boceprevir and telaprevir, two new medications to improve HCV treatment. The newly approved drugs have been clinically shown to shorten the time required for treatment while increasing the patient response rate; however, this also comes with potentially higher costs for drug therapy. With these cost increases and complex prescribing regimens, Walgreens has developed the programs to help both patients and payers better manage disease treatment and lower patients’ overall healthcare costs.
The programs are offered through Walgreens specialty pharmacy and in store at more than 7,700 Walgreens community pharmacies nationwide.
“Adherence is a critical component of HCV treatment and significantly impacts a patient’s response rate and recovery,” said Cheryl Pegus, Walgreens chief medical officer. “Our clinicians work closely with patients both face-to-face at our community pharmacies and through our central specialty pharmacies. Having the ability to manage patients through multiple channels enables our clinicians to effectively address possible side effects, measure adherence, conduct interventions and also work in conjunction with physicians to ensure each patient is receiving personalized care and the best possible treatment regimen.”
Walgreens' HCV therapy management program provides patients with a variety of services, regardless of whether they are receiving medication from the central specialty pharmacy (via home delivery) or through Walgreens retail locations. These services include:
Monthly adherence calls to inform patients about critical upcoming blood tests that are required to continue therapy, and to educate patients on how to maximize therapy results;
Next-day home delivery for medications;
Assistance programs to help patients minimize risk resulting from economic circumstances that may negatively impact therapy compliance;
Depression screenings with communications to pharmacists and physicians who are members of a patient’s care team;
Alerts for missed doses, at-risk patient behavior or serious adverse side effects that are communicated to a prescribing physician;
Clinical support line with healthcare professionals available around the clock;
Convenient access to hepatitis A and B vaccinations at select Walgreens nationwide; and
Shared patient prescription profiles among Walgreens' network of more than 7,700 pharmacies and central fulfillment specialty pharmacies, enabling pharmacists to check for potential drug interactions and provide continuous patient education.
While Walgreens is working closely with patients to help them better manage their condition, on the payer level the company provides tools to help payers understand the FDA’s new “Response Guided Therapy” protocols associated with the new HCV treatments. Walgreens also provides detailed patient-level reporting that can alert payers to patients who may be at risk for nonadherence or off-label use, the company announced.