When it comes to maximizing therapeutic opportunities for the treatment of individuals with toxoplasmosis, pharmacists and other health care professionals understand the value of care coordination.
When it comes to maximizing therapeutic opportunities for the treatment of individuals with toxoplasmosis—a serious, sometimes fatal infection caused by the Toxoplasma gondii parasite—a patient-first approach can make a critical difference. In the battle against one of the most common parasites in the world, pharmacists and other health care professionals understand the value of care coordination for optimizing compliance and outcomes from the moment patients are diagnosed.
Currently recommended treatment drugs for toxoplasmosis target the tachyzoite stage of the parasite and do not eradicate encysted parasites in the tissues. Treatment involves a combination of drugs for at least 6 weeks and—for some patients—at least 6 months, depending on clinical response.1
For this reason, it’s important for pharmacists and other health care professionals to enlist the help of a patient management organization that specializes in care coordination for patients with toxoplasmosis. They can offer dedicated care coordination, help patients gain quick and affordable access to the prescribed drug, and support them through every step of their treatment.
Infection usually occurs by eating undercooked contaminated meat, exposure from infected cat feces or mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy. Toxoplasmosis may cause flu-like symptoms in some people, but most people affected never develop signs and symptoms. For infants born to infected mothers and for people with weakened immune systems, toxoplasmosis may cause serious complications.2
Individuals with a competent immune system are able to eliminate much of the parasite within a few weeks after initial infection. However, parasites protected within tissue cysts can survive long term and may become reactivated if the individual becomes immunosuppressed.
Toxoplasmosis is a leading cause of death attributed to foodborne illness in the United States. More than 40 million men, women and children in the United States carry the Toxoplasma parasite, but very few have symptoms because the immune system typically keeps the parasite from causing illness.1
However, women newly infected with Toxoplasma during or shortly before pregnancy, and anyone with a compromised immune system, should be aware that toxoplasmosis can have severe consequences. The gondii parasite can cause a serious brain disease that can potentially lead to death, eye infections, miscarriage or stillbirth, and birth defects in babies exposed to the parasite in the womb.
Closer Look at Current Treatment
Pyrimethamine is considered the most effective drug against toxoplasmosis and has become a standard component of therapy.1 Dose-related suppression of the bone marrow caused by this drug can be mitigated by concurrent administration of folinic acid (leucovorin), which protects the bone marrow from the toxic effects of pyrimethamine. A second drug, such as sulfadiazine or clindamycin, should also be included.1
Toxoplasmosis in immunodeficient patients is often fatal if not treated. Treatment is recommended for at least 4-6 weeks beyond the resolution of symptoms, but can take at least 6 months for these patients. Relapses can occur in patients with AIDS and maintenance therapy is recommended until a significant immunologic improvement occurs in response to antiretroviral therapy.
Benefits of a Patient-First Strategy
A patient-first approach means providers and patients have one less concern when it comes to getting started on a medication. A care coordinator works with the patient to understand their insurance coverage, financial needs, and the financial assistance programs that they may be eligible for, which helps to ensure compliance and positive outcomes.
Patient-first enables health care professionals to focus more on improving the patient experience and enhancing quality of life for the patient. The best patient-first plan includes programs, services, and specialized expertise that meets the needs of patients with toxoplasmosis. This is where partnering with a patient management organization that uses patient-centric strategies can effectively guide care for this small patient population.
Finding the Right Patient Management Organization
“Patient-first” has become a buzzword for many specialty pharmacy organizations that, in reality, only focus on profits. Therefore, it’s important to find a partner that offers dedicated teams with expertise in each therapy area.
These experts deliver the constant, consistent, and personalized care that specialty patients and their families need. Team members offer peace of mind by being available as a trusted source of ongoing support. They can also be ready to anticipate challenges in a way that fosters compliance, which leads to improved outcomes and a long-term healthy patient.
With the right specialty patient management organization, just one phone call puts patients in touch with toxoplasmosis experts who can begin to address everything from medication delivery and insurance reimbursement to compliance and education. By delivering a proactive service experience tailored to each patient’s needs, these organizations create a reliable path to a better patient experience for patients with toxoplasmosis.
About the Author
Donovan Quill is President and CEO of Optime Care.