DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Tuesday announced plans to work with the Department of Health and Human Services on the development of a medication therapy management program to help improve outcomes for HIV patients. The multiyear program will examine the impact of MTM intervention in the community pharmacy setting, with Walgreens anticipating to provide nearly $1 million in in-kind services.
“Investing in public-private initiatives is key in the fight against HIV/AIDS. This collaboration will offer insight into how pharmacists and other providers can help patients living with HIV/AIDS stay on their medication and in care, and ultimately improve health outcomes,” HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius said.
In a number of markets across the country, Walgreens pharmacists at select HIV Centers of Excellence would work with a total of 1,000 patients as part of this pilot. These locations are staffed with specially trained pharmacists who work closely with patients to offer guidance and support with their medication therapy. Under the plan, the innovative public-private initiative would include an initial comprehensive medication review and quarterly MTM. Other COE services — including refill reminders, help with managing side effects and navigating insurance benefits — will also be provided on a monthly basis. Pilot data will be used to measure the benefits and costs associated with a pharmacy-based program. Patient participation is voluntary, and once select locations are identified, the program is expected to launch Jan. 1, 2013.
“Walgreens community pharmacists are a valued part of the healthcare team for thousands of HIV patients coast to coast, and this new program can help elevate the importance and effectiveness of the meaningful patient-pharmacist relationship,” stated Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness. “By developing these relationships and closely studying how they impact outcomes for HIV patients, this collaboration will put community pharmacy in a great position to be even more effective and relevant when it comes to retention in care for those with chronic conditions.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV. Walgreens fields more than 500 HIV COEs at its drug stores in communities highly impacted by the complex condition. These locations reach nearly 90% of the U.S. HIV population, Walgreens stated.
Last month, Walgreens announced its participation in a new two-year pilot program with the CDC to help connect more people with HIV to care by expanding the role of the pharmacist beyond immunizations and health tests to include HIV testing. The CDC plans to use pilot results from select pharmacies and in-store clinics in urban and rural areas identified as highly impacted by HIV to develop a model that pharmacists and nurse practitioners can use to implement HIV testing throughout the nation. In the first 60 days of testing, more than 100 tests were administered with four preliminary positives.
Walgreens, along with Greater Than AIDS, a coalition of public and private sector partners united in response to the domestic epidemic, teamed up this year with local health departments and AIDS organizations to allow them to provide free HIV testing at 47 Walgreens stores in 20 cities across the nation in support of National HIV Testing Day. From June 27 to 29, more than 1,500 HIV tests were administered with 25 preliminary positives.