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Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy Drives Adherence for Hepatitis C Patients Through Therapy Management Program
  Walgreens community pharmacies nationwide join specialty pharmacy in offering high-touch HCV programs as new medications become available
July 18, 2011
DEERFIELD, Ill. Furthering its commitment to improving patient care while lowering health care costs for patients and payers, Walgreens (NYSE: WAG)(NASDAQ: WAG) is recognizing medication adherence rates as high as 96 percent through its hepatitis C (HCV) therapy management programs. This comes as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved boceprevir and telaprevir, two new medications to improve HCV treatment.
"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"
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 health care 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 prescribing physician
· Clinical support line with health care professionals available 24/7
· Convenient access to hepatitis A and B vaccinations at select Walgreens nationwide
· 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 non-adherence or off-label use.
Hepatitis C is the most common chronic bloodborne infection in the U.S., 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.
"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 said. "With an expansive network of pharmacists and other health care professionals who are keeping up to 96 percent of our HCV patients adherent, we're continually educating patients and helping them best manage their condition as part of a successful treatment program."
About Walgreens
Walgreens ( is the nation's largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2010 sales of $67 billion. The company operates 7,733 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Each day, Walgreens provides nearly 6 million customers the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice in communities across America. Walgreens scope of pharmacy services includes retail, specialty, infusion, medical facility and mail service, along with respiratory services. These services improve health outcomes and lower costs for payers including employers, managed care organizations, health systems, pharmacy benefit managers and the public sector. Take Care Health Systems is a Walgreens subsidiary that is the largest and most comprehensive manager of worksite health and wellness centers and in-store convenient care clinics, with more than 700 locations throughout the country.
Walgreens Jim Cohn, (847) 315-2950
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