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    How Pharmacists Are Helping Hep C Patients

    A Walgreens study found that pharmacist collaboration helps Hep C patients with better outcomes and cheaper co-pays.

    Pharmacists know that when they are more involved with patient care, patient outcomes improve. New research confirms that not only can pharmacists help improve outcomes, they can also even save patients money.

    A collaboration between a Walgreens local specialty pharmacy and Piedmont Healthcare’s hepatitis C clinic in Atlanta resulted in 94% of patients prescribed direct-acting antiretrovirals (DAAs) achieving the primary outcome goal of sustained virologic response (SVR). The patients in this new study, from the Walgreens Center for Health and Wellbeing Research, included those with advanced liver disease, previous treatment failure, or liver transplants.

    The study also found the hepatitis C patients were able to access therapies quicker and had lower co-pays compared to those seen with other published studies. The research was published in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association and used a joint clinical database of patients who were prescribed DAAs to assess various outcomes including time-to-therapy, SVR, insurance appeals, and co-pay assistant amounts.

    Related article: Tripled Hep C Rates Blamed on Opioid Crisis

    Even though many of these patients had advanced disease, the SVR rates were similar to those published in clinical trials, the study found. Among other key takeaways, the study showed patient co-pays were reduced to less than $20 per month for the majority of patients after insurance appeals and financial assistance initiated by the Walgreens pharmacy team, and about 71% received their medication within 10 days—even with requirements for prior authorizations.

    Shauna Markes-Wilson, RPhShauna Markes-Wilson, RPh“We’re able to reduce those barriers and decrease time to treatment and navigate that process for the patients,” Shauna Markes-Wilson, RPh, an author of the study and a local specialty pharmacist in Atlanta, told Drug Topics.

    “The pharmacists will help with paperwork, preauthorizations, keeping in touch with patients and physicians, following up with insurance companies and seeking out ways to reduce the costs for patients by dealing with the pharmaceutical companies and nonprofit organizations,” she said.

    The study began as a way to get concrete data on how the relationship between the hepatitis C patients and Walgreens local specialty pharmacy at Piedmont Healthcare was working, Markes-Wilson explained. Walgreens has nearly 100 hepatitis C specialized pharmacies across the country where pharmacists and pharmacy staff are trained to collaborate with hepatitis C medical providers to ensure timely and affordable access to treatment. Using charts and data pulled from Walgreens Connected Care system, the study examined records and outcomes for patients prescribed DAAs from December 2013 to December 2015.

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