Pharmacists boost adherence in hepatitis C patients

July 13, 2011

The involvement of specialty pharmacists and nurses increased medication adherence in patients with hepatitis C (HCV), recent research has reported.

The involvement of specialty pharmacists and nurses increased medication adherence in patients with hepatitis C (HCV), recent research has reported.

Accredo Health Group, the specialty pharmacy arm of Medco Health Solutions, found that patients receiving care at the Hepatitis C Therapeutic Resource Center at Accredo were nearly 10% more adherent than those who received therapy from other providers during Accredo’s fiscal year 2010. The center’s “high-touch” model includes instruction of patients in use of medications, communication with doctors about treatment programs, and patient assistance in management of side effects.

“There is a correlation between adherence and patients’ ability to achieve a viral response. Every time patients are nonadherent, they put themselves at a much greater risk of resistance,” said Richard Faris, vice president and national practice leader for Medco’s Rare and Specialty Therapeutics Resource Center.

Helping HCV patients with medication adherence will become even more important as 2 new drugs are added to many patients’ regimens. In addition to the current protocol of pegylated interferon and ribavirin, the FDA approved boceprevir and teleprevir in May to supplement treatments of HCV genotype 1, the most common type of the virus.

“Moving forward, there are additional opportunities to reduce waste in the system,” Faris said. While the typical course of treatment for HCV genotype 1 takes around 48 weeks, specialty pharmacists and others who help patients adhere to the appropriate treatment can reduce duration of treatment to 24 weeks. This also results in drug cost savings of $13,000 per patient. With the 2 additional therapies, the savings may be significantly higher than that, said Faris.