Walgreens Specialty fortifies oncology service with six new oral therapies

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy on Thursday added six 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 company announced.

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

The program, which launched in 2008, features 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. And based on the cost of these oral agents, the waste avoidance can save payers between $2,000 and $4,000 per month, per patient.

Oral oncology medications often cost individual patients and their insurance providers thousands of dollars per month, Walgreens reported. The cycle management program saved more than $3 million combined during the first three months of therapy among 1,740 patients, through significant reductions in medication waste and improved adherence to medications, according to a Walgreens analysis.

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