Walgreens Adds 6 Medications to Oral Oncology Clinical Program

Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy is adding 6 medications to its oral oncology cycle management program, in a significant expansion of the comprehensive treatment and support program it provides to benefit patients, physicians and payers.

Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy is adding 6 medications to its oral oncology cycle management program, in a significant expansion of the comprehensive treatment and support program it provides to benefit patients, physicians and payers.

The additional medications now available to patients being treated for cancer through Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy’s cycle management program are: Afinitor and Votrient (kidney cancer), Sprycel and Tasigna (leukemia), Targretin and Zolinza (lymphoma). The program previously included three primary cancer drugs: Nexavar (kidney and liver cancer), Sutent (gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) and kidney cancer) and Tarceva (non-small cell lung and pancreatic cancer).

“Taking oral oncology medications as prescribed can be difficult for many patients, and this program has proven to be successful in improving patient outcomes while also lowering costs for patients and payers,” said Michael Nameth, executive vice president of Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy. “Expanding our cycle management program allows us to provide enhanced care and support to more patients as they cope with challenging oral oncology regimens.”

The program, which launched in 2008, features extensive, regular monitoring of patients, as well as a “split-fill” dispensing system in which only half of the first month’s supply of medication is filled initially. This allows Walgreens clinicians to follow up with patients to monitor response to treatment and potential reactions or side-effects, helping to avoid medication waste and costs associated with early therapy discontinuation.

Oral oncology medications often cost individual patients and their insurance providers thousands of dollars per month. The cycle management program saved more than $3 million combined during the first 3 months of therapy among 1740 patients, through significant reductions in medication waste and improved adherence to medications, according to a Walgreens analysis.

Oral oncology medications are often wasted because patients struggle to complete a full month of therapy due to side effects or disease progression. In addition to dispensing partial month’s supplies through its “split-fill” model, Walgreens clinicians and the patient’s physician work together mid-cycle to determine whether the therapy should be continued. The regimen then can be adjusted or discontinued without medication waste. Based on the cost of these oral agents, the waste avoidance can save payers between $2000 and $4000 per month, per patient. The Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy cycle management program offers patients enhanced access to clinical support between physician office visits via follow-up from clinicians to encourage medication adherence.

Programs such as the cycle management program are increasingly important to patients and physicians due to the growth in the number of oral oncology medications on the market, which has further increased focus on patients to ensure they are taking their medication correctly and reporting problems and side effects, Nameth said. Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy offers support to patients taking oral chemotherapy medications to assist them in taking the medication correctly, help them cope with possible side effects and remind them to refill prescriptions as needed. In addition to the split-fill option, the cycle management program provides additional support for patients taking oral chemotherapy medications that have the highest drop-off rates, meaning patients are more likely to stop taking them due to severe side effects. In the cycle management program, Walgreens clinicians contact patients prior to initiation of the medication, as well as during days 10 and 20 of therapy, and employ an extensive assessment encompassing medication adherence, side effects and other concerns.

SOURCE: Walgreens Newsroom