Walgreens Infusion Services (NYSE: WAG) (Nasdaq: WAG) and Regence, an affiliation of health care plans in the Pacific Northwest/Mountain State region, recently entered into an agreement to help lower overall medical costs for specialty infusion patients in Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington. This site of care optimization program allows patients on specialty infusion medications to visit a Walgreens alternate treatment site or receive care in their home at a lower out-of-pocket cost. Specialty medications are used to treat chronic conditions including Crohn’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and various blood disorders.
Depending on the drug prescribed to a patient, health plan cost savings of 30 percent to 70 percent can be possible when therapy is given at an alternate treatment site compared to other outpatient settings, according to Walgreens industry analysis of more than 5.3 million commercial managed care lives from January 2008 through December 2010. For Remicade ® (infliximab) and Immune Globulin–two high cost infusion drugs–the same data shows health plan costs are typically reduced by more than $20,000 per patient annually when provided at an alternate treatment site.
“We are focused on the patient and our goal is to deliver medications at the most cost effective and most clinically appropriate site of service,” said Mike Ellis, Walgreens vice president of specialty pharmacy and infusion. “Through this agreement with Regence, patients receiving high-cost specialty medications can receive treatment in their home, or in our alternate treatment sites. With our clinicians, expertise and multiple points of care, we are playing an important role in the health care continuum.”
“We have chosen to work with Walgreens as part of our ongoing effort to improve health outcomes while managing the total cost of care for our customers,” said Raulo Frear, Pharm D, general manager of RegenceRx. “We particularly value their expertise in working directly with patients to help ensure they have a superior experience when they participate in this program.”