Walgreen Co. reported that its specialty pharmacy is realizing medication adherence rates as high as 96% through its hepatitis C therapy management programs.


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Walgreens sees high adherence in specialty Rx program

July 18th, 2011

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreen Co. reported that its specialty pharmacy is realizing medication adherence rates as high as 96% through its hepatitis C therapy management programs.

Walgreens said Monday that the adherence achievement comes following the Food and Drug Administration's recent approval of boceprevir and telaprevir, two new medications to improve hepatitis C (HCV) treatment.

The new drugs have been clinically shown to shorten the time required for hepatitis C treatment while increasing the patient response rate, although the drug therapy carries potentially higher costs, according to Walgreens. Given the more complex prescribing regimens and cost considerations, the drug store chain said it has developed the programs to help patients and payers better manage disease treatment and lower patients' overall health care expenses.

The programs are offered through Walgreens specialty pharmacy and in-store at more than 7,700 Walgreens pharmacies.

"Adherence is a critical component of HCV treatment and significantly impacts a patient's response rate and recovery," Cheryl Pegus, chief medical officer for Walgreens, said in a statement. "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 said its HCV therapy management program provides patients with a variety of services, regardless of whether they are receiving medication from the central specialty pharmacy through home delivery or via Walgreens stores.

Services include monthly adherence calls to inform patients about critical upcoming blood tests and educate them on how to maximize therapy results; next-day home delivery for medications; assistance programs to help patients with economic circumstances that may negatively impact therapy compliance; depression screenings with communications to pharmacists and physicians in a patient's care team; and alerts for missed doses, at-risk patient behavior or serious adverse side effects, which are communicated to prescribing doctor.

Also provided are a clinical support line with health care professionals available 24x7 and ready access to hepatitis A and B vaccinations at select Walgreens stores across the nation.
Shared patient prescription profiles among Walgreens network of more than 7,700 pharmacies and central fulfillment specialty pharmacies also enable pharmacists to check for potential drug interactions and provide continuous patient education, the drug chain added.

At the payer level, Walgreens noted that it provides tools to help payers understand the FDA's new "Response Guided Therapy" protocols associated with the new HCV treatments. Walgreens said it also provides detailed, patient-level reporting that can alert payers to patients who may be at risk for nonadherence or off-label use.

Hepatitis C is the most common chronic bloodborne infection in the United States, affecting more than 3.2 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Treatment programs are often complex because while medication adherence can be key to successful therapy and improving patient outcomes, many patients who begin therapy fail to complete it due to medication side effects, such as flu-like symptoms, Walgreens said.

"This underscores the importance of a coordinated care management program that offers both face-to-face and centralized communication between an experienced clinician and patients who are undergoing treatment,” Pegus stated. "With an expansive network of pharmacists and other health care professionals who are keeping up to 96% of our HCV patients adherent, we're continually educating patients and helping them best manage their condition as part of a successful treatment program."

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