Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on hepatitis C outcomes at a health-system specialty pharmacy

J Manag Care Spec Pharm. 2022 Jun;28(6):667-672. doi: 10.18553/jmcp.2022.28.6.667.


BACKGROUND: The goal of hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment is to cure the patient of the infection, defined as a nondetectable HCV RNA at least 12 weeks after treatment completion, or sustained virologic response (SVR). The COVID-19 pandemic has presented new barriers to care in the treatment of patients with HCV that resulted in a transition to tele-health services at many health systems to overcome these barriers. OBJECTIVE: To assess the real-world impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent shift to a telehealth model on collection of SVR data and other HCV treatment outcomes in a health-system setting. METHODS: Subjects who received a referral for an HCV direct-acting antiviral agent between January 1, 2018, and November 30, 2020, and were aged 18 years or older at time of enrollment were placed in either “pre-COVID-19” or “COVID-19” cohorts based on enrollment date. The primary endpoint of this study evaluated confirmed SVR to treatment determined by the absence of HCV RNA by polymerase chain reaction testing at least 12 weeks after completion of drug therapy. Secondary endpoints evaluated completion of medication therapy and adherence to laboratory appointments. RESULTS: 1,504 patients met study inclusion criteria (pre-COVID-19 cohort, n = 1,230; COVID-19 cohort, n = 274). The COVID-19 cohort demonstrated significantly lower therapy completion rates (P = 0.001), were less likely to obtain SVR laboratory tests (P < 0.001), and had a significantly lower confirmed SVR rate (P < 0.001) compared with the pre-COVID-19 cohort. In a subset of patients who completed therapy and had SVR laboratory tests collected, there were no significant differences observed in the rate of patients who achieved SVR (P = 0.959). CONCLUSIONS: During the COVID-19 pandemic, patients with HCV were significantly less likely to complete therapy or participate in SVR laboratory work. Further studies are needed to determine if offering a telehealth option for our patients in a post-COVID-19 environment would offer any additional advantage in increasing access to care for patients with HCV. DISCLOSURES: No outside funding supported this study. Dr Cooper is an employee of the University of Kentucky whose position was partially funded by Gilead Sciences, Inc.

PMID:35621721 | DOI:10.18553/jmcp.2022.28.6.667