News Feature | February 21, 2014

Walgreens Broadens Access To Its Connected Care Hepatitis C Program

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By Liisa Vexler

Walgreens has announced that more than 100 of its pharmacies will now have hepatitis C virus (HCV) medications and pharmacists specially trained in the use of new oral therapies. This move broadens access to the Walgreens Connected Care hepatitis C program, an education and support program for hepatitis C patients.

There are now 3.2 million cases of hepatitis C in the USA, but recent advances in therapies mean that it is no longer life-threatening. Also, the Affordable Care Act means that more and more Americans with HCV will have access to health insurance.

Designated pharmacies are operated by pharmacists qualified to provide HCV care and to identify associated health problems. HCV care is often complicated by co-infection with HIV or by conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

Although the new advanced therapies are more effective and have fewer side effects, some patients have problems in continuing care, especially when HCV is combined with other health problems. Walgreen's specialized support system offers 24-hour access to specially trained pharmacists, advice on insurance and financial assistance, delivery of medication to a convenient pharmacy, monitoring of response to treatment, and encouragement in adhering to medication. The Walgreens program has reported 90% adherence rates.

Glen Pietrandoni, director of Walgreens specialty products and services, virology, explained that the program is "designed to meet the holistic needs of people diagnosed with hepatitis C - before, during, and after HCV treatment. This can help patients achieve a sustained virologic response and an improved quality of life through medication adherence, while continuing to manage other health outcomes."