Virtual Coaching for Hepatitis C Patients

May 16, 2013
Protease inhibitors improve Hep C cure rates by 75% but pose new challenges. Accredo's specialist pharmacists coach patients on ways to remain adherent.
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  • Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C affects approximately 3.2 million U.S. patients. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that deaths from hepatitis C surpassed deaths from AIDS in 2007.

Protease inhibitors offer many patients new therapy options. Used in combination with the traditional therapies of interferon and ribavirin – as a triple-therapy regimen – these drugs have helped improve cure rates by 75%, but they also add a new level of complexity to the treatment regimen.

Hepatitis C Medication Challenges

Hepatitis C medications also have numerous, often severe, side effects. Additional medications may be necessary to combat the side effects, making medication adherence even more challenging for many patients.

However, non-adherence could mean failure of therapy. In addition, patients can only undergo one round of treatment with the currently available medications because of the potential for viral resistance. If the treatment is not optimized, patients may be at risk for continued liver destruction, cirrhosis and death.

The nurses and pharmacists in the Accredo Hepatitis C Therapeutic Resource Center® offer specialized care to ensure patients get the specific drug and disease information they need to remain adherent and achieve healthier outcomes. Given their focus on hepatitis C, they can provide useful disease-management information, including:

  • The importance of staying hydrated, managing the timing of doses and other coping strategies used to prevent and minimize the side effects of interferon
  • Why certain lifestyle changes can help better manage the disease, combat fatigue and handle stress
  • How a care partner can help patients navigate through any treatment obstacles
  • The importance of timely clinical monitoring to achieve maximum effectiveness of therapy

Specialty Pharmacies Support Higher Medication Adherence Rates

A recent Express Scripts study published in the American Journal of Pharmacy Benefits demonstrates that patients with the chronic hepatitis C virus using a specialty pharmacy have higher rates of medication adherence than those who use retail pharmacies. The study found that:

  • Patients using a specialty pharmacy had an 8.6% higher adherence rate than those using a retail pharmacy.
  • Patients who exclusively used a specialty pharmacy had a 60% higher likelihood of achieving optimum adherence compared with retail pharmacy users.
  • Specialty pharmacy patients had 15 fewer therapy gap days (days without any available hepatitis C virus medication).

Additional Online Support

The Hepatitis Neighborhood also offers online support in the form of disease state information, message boards and a video (see below) about protease inhibitors that provides information about the method of action for these drugs. The video also provides tips about how to schedule the complex therapy into daily life and stay adherent.

Virtual Coaching for Hepatitis C Patients

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Lab Staff
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