Health plans scrambling to keep up with pace of Hepatitis C drug development, UMass Medical School expert says

September 07, 2017

For state Medicaid programs and other health plans, keeping up with the dramatic progress in new Hepatitis C drugs and treatment can be a major challenge, says UMass Medical School pharmacist Pavel Lavitas, PharmD, BCPS.

The FDA has approved 11 new drugs to treat Hepatitis C over the past few years, with several more ready to hit the market in the near future, says Lavitas, a clinical consultant pharmacist in Clinical Pharmacy Services. The effectiveness of these expensive new drugs can be over 90 percent.

“The Hepatitis C landscape has changed significantly over the past several years,” Lavitas says. “For health plans, it is a major challenge keeping up with all the major developments related to the management of Hepatitis C infection.”

New developments in the field are happening so fast that treatment guidelines and recommendations are being continuously updated, Lavitas says.

The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and the Infectious Disease Society of America are updating their guidelines several times a year, while the findings of new clinical trials are being rolled out at conferences on a regular basis, notes Lavitas, a frequent speaker on Hepatitis C medication management.

At UMass Medical, the pharmacy team keeps a close eye on the pipeline of new drugs and the latest research, Lavitas notes.

That means reviewing evidence-based medicine and proposing drug management strategies to clients even before various treatments have been approved by the FDA, Lavitas explains. It also requires projecting expenditures for these new medications.

“This proactive approach to drug management has allowed our clients to optimize their allocations of limited resources,” Lavitas said.

Lavitas oversees the Hepatitis C medication management program for MassHealth, the Massachusetts Medicaid program. Through its management, UMass Medical School saved MassHealth more than $3.7 million in just over one year.

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