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CVS Caremark steps up hepatitis C patient support
June 3rd, 2011
WOONSOCKET, R.I. – CVS Caremark Corp. is enhancing its hepatitis C patient support program in the wake of the Food and Drug Administration's recent approval of two new add-on therapies for the disease.
Last month, the FDA approved Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s Incivek (telaprevir) and Merck's Victrelis (boceprevir). Both prescription drugs come in tablet form.
CVS Caremark said Friday that although both of the new hepatitis C therapies offer improved response rates and a shorter treatment regimen for patients, they still result in uncomfortable and challenging side effects. The company's Hep C CareTeam educates patients about their disease and treatment regimen and supports them throughout therapy.
In addition, the Hep C CareTeam researches and manages the benefits verification process, ensures on-time delivery of the medication, coordinates injection training for new patients and communicates proactively with the patient's doctor.
"As the treatment landscape for hepatitis C changes with the addition of two new therapies, we see an even greater need to provide patients with support to help them manage their medications and stay adherent," Scott Reid, senior vice president of CVS Caremark Specialty Pharmacy Operations, said in a statement. "Our CareTeam approach connects patients with a dedicated team, including a nurse and specially trained pharmacists that are available to provide support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."
The CVS Caremark Specialty Pharmacy Hep C CareTeam includes nurses, pharmacists and pharmacy service representatives, and the company noted that these professionals undergo extensive, proprietary training and education related to hepatitis C and available therapies. The Hep C CareTeam reinforces the doctor's instructions to ensure that patients safely and effectively administer their prescribed medication, and the team communicates with the physician as needed to address any treatment-related issues or complications.
Hepatitis C is the most common blood-borne viral infection in the United States, CVS Caremark reported. An estimated 3.2 million Americans may be infected with the virus, and many aren't aware they have the disease because they don't have symptoms.
The pharmacy company said traditional therapies for the disease have low response rates and often have significant side effects, notably flu-like symptoms, that cause patients to feel worse during therapy and may result in nonadherence to their medication. Only about 25% of patients who initiate therapy complete the full treatment regimen, CVS Caremark said.