It’s been one year since the launch of a new drug class, protease inhibitors, for treatment of the hepatitis C virus. These drugs may benefit patients with hepatitis C who do not respond to other forms of treatment.
Speciality Therapy Class Drug Trends Hepatitis C
When the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recently recommended that all Baby Boomers be tested for the hepatitis C virus, it was a sobering reminder of a disease that claims the lives of more than 15,000 Americans each year. (Of the 3.2 million Americans infected with the virus, more than 2 million were born between 1945 and 1965.)
Yet, the CDC noted that these new oral protease inhibitors, Incivek™ (telaprevir) and Victrelis™ (boceprevir) may bring some hope to a stark situation.
As we’ve written here in the past, both drug regimens have the potential to improve the quality of patients’ health and even cure the disease. Yet both drugs require rigorous treatment of combination therapies, and they often come with side effects ranging from flu-like symptoms to suicidal tendencies.
Prior to the FDA’s approval of these drugs, HealthBridge Pharma & Biotech, Express Scripts’ suite of pharma services, anticipated the needs of patients taking the new hepatitis C medications and designed a specialized clinical program to encourage higher adherence levels.
Patients with hepatitis C, genotype 1, typically take a triple therapy regimen. Our nurses support patients through each step of therapy, educating them on their combination therapy regimen, which includes Incivek or Victrelis, as well as pegylated interferon alfa, taken as an injection weekly, and ribavirin, a pill, taken daily.
This program includes providing a Lab Log to help patients maintain regular blood testing, a critical component to regulating the dosage and length of therapy. Blood tests are typically required after every four weeks during initial stages of therapy. Therapy may last as long as 44 weeks, depending on the drug and the patients’ response to therapy. Each test provides 6 or more analyses of blood and organ functions including liver enzymes, platelet counts, and hemoglobin value. With their Lab Log in hand, patients provide our clinical adherence team the information they need to help facilitate ongoing treatment education and follow up.
Patients also receive a Treatment Diary so they can document therapy times and dosages, side effects they may have, and the medications they are taking as a result of side effects.
In addition, an innovative new video education tool, Virtual Coaching, gives patients an “inside the body” view of how a protease inhibitor works to prevent the hepatitis C virus from breaking apart and reproducing in the body. The video also provides audio and visual instructions to patients on how to schedule their doses, what types of food to take with their medication, and the time required in between doses.
CuraScript Specialty Pharmacy provides hepatitis C patients with online information about the disease, as well as access to community support via the website, www.hepatitisneighborhood.com.
With the support of our clinical adherence team and online resources, patients have renewed hope for improved health.
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