Successful medication management can yield millions in savings, UMass Medical School expert says

November 13, 2017

UMass Medical School is developing strategies to more efficiently manage Hepatitis C treatment at a time when both new infections and the cost of new, life-saving drugs are soaring, says Pavel Lavitas, PharmD, BCPS, of UMass Medical School.

The medical school has both developed a Hepatitis C medication management programs that can be used by states, health plans, and pharmacy benefit management programs, notes Lavitas.

One medication monitoring program designed for MassHealth, the Massachusetts Medicaid program, saved $3.7 million through the use of more carefully crafted, efficient Hepatitis C drug regimens, according to a report published in the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy.

“We have implemented a comprehensive medication management program, the goal of which is to promote the cost effective use of limited health care resources while also optimizing member outcomes,” Lavitas explains.

A centerpiece of that Hepatitis C medication management program is prior authorization review, the goal of which is to ensure that only the most clinically appropriate drug regimens are prescribed. Guidelines are constantly reviewed and updated as new clinical information is published, Lavitas says.

“Our clinical pharmacists develop comprehensive and evidence-based guidelines in consultation with infectious disease specialists,” Lavitas notes.

Pharmacists take the lead on another key component of the medication management program, refill reminders, Lavitas says. The treatment regimen for Hepatitis C can be complicated and intensive, with the danger that some patients will simply stop taking their pills. That can lead to both serious health consequences and higher medical costs.

The pharmacy team also works directly with prescribers. Pharmacists discuss the best possible drug therapies and how to ensure patients take their medication while also gathering information on the effectiveness of various treatment regimes.

A key part of the program is gathering outcomes and conducting analysis and reporting that builds upon the best medication strategies, determining cure rates, and calculating savings.

“We have a dedicated team of clinical pharmacists and pharmacist technicians trained in the management of Hepatitis C infection,” Lavitas says.

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