Intent Solutions Joins University of Kentucky Program to Eliminate Hepatitis C in Appalachia

ATLANTA, Ga., July 8, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Intent Solutions, an Atlanta-based company that provides technology to improve prescription drug safety and adherence, announced today that it is partnering with the University of Kentuckyin a $15 million federal grant program aimed at eliminating Hepatitis C in one eastern Kentucky county hardest hit by the disease. 

Intent Solutions recently signed a contract with the University of Kentucky to manage the dispensation of hepatitis C medications to 900 individuals in the program and to use its tad™ dispensing system to track patient adherence to the prescribed drug regimen. The goal of the Kentucky Viral Hepatitis Treatment Study (KeY Treat) is to eliminate the hepatitis C virus (HCV) from Perry County by treating all residents of the county who are chronically infected, especially those at highest risk for transmitting the virus.

The program is funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“tad is uniquely suited to population health intervention programs like this one, and we are proud to be part of it,” said Sam Zamarripa, CEO of Intent Solutions. “While our tad system was originally developed to reduce the misuse, abuse and diversion of opioids, we have also seen its potential in other areas, such as clinical trials. In hepatitis C treatment, it is mission-critical that medications be taken properly to rid the body of the hepatitis C virus (HCV), and tad is an ideal tool for making that happen, as the leaders of Kentucky’s intervention program in this Appalachian county clearly see.”

Monitoring adherence so the program achieves its goals
An acronym for the timeless admonition of “take as directed,” tad is an automated dispensing device the size of a smartphone. Containing up to a 30-day supply of pills, it requires only the touch of a finger on its biometric keypad to dispense the correct daily or periodic dosage. Setting a new standard for monitoring and managing adherence to drug regimens, it reports to physicians, therapists and caregivers not only how regularly individuals are taking their medications, but also any attempts to abuse, misuse or divert the drugs from their intended use.

“Prescription adherence is important in any treatment program, but especially so in the 12-week regimen required to rid the body of hepatitis C virus (HCV),” Zamarripa said. “tad will increase the likelihood that these individuals will live. Our tad technology provides a new level of safety and security that has never been available with prescription drugs—and a new level of integrity to adherence data.”

tad’s ability to document whether drugs are being taken properly is especially important to a program like this one. The biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences has donated the medications to be used—at a value of about $20 million.

“By taking the medication as prescribed, the likelihood of being cured is exceedingly high,” said Jennifer Havens, principal investigator for KeY Treat. “tad provides us with clear visibility into whether individuals are taking their medication properly. If they are not, we can intervene quickly to prevent waste and misuse, and to ensure the study aims are being met.” 

Well-suited for hepatitis C programs
The Kentucky program focuses on HCV-positive individuals in Perry County, one of the rural communities in America that has seen a spike in HCV largely as a result of the opioid crisis. Havens estimates that at least half of those stricken are struggling or have struggled with opioid use disorder, a major cause of HCV infection. The $15 million for the program will also include support for the county’s needle exchange program, access to medication-assisted therapy for opioid use disorder and help with housing and unemployment.

Since a drug is now available that cures those infected with HCV, the World Health Organization has set a goal for elimination of the virus as a public health threat by the year 2030.

“Some of those involved in the work of eliminating HCV believe that micro-elimination is the best way to accomplish the goal, i.e., to treat people in smaller, more targeted groups like the people in Perry County,” Zamarripa said. “That’s one of the reasons being involved in the program is so exciting for us. Our hope is that tad will be used in other programs geared to specific population segments stricken with infections treatable with prescription drugs.”

And because HCV infection is prevalent in people who are addicted to opioids, Zamarripa believes projects like the one in Kentucky fall well within the company’s original mission to provide a solution to the opioid crisis.

“That mission found its instrument with Intent Solutions’ invention of tad for controlling how opioids are dispensed by pharmacists and preventing people from becoming addicted in the first place,” he said. “But now we see we can battle addiction on a new front—helping people stricken with an infection that is a highly probable consequence of opioid addiction. It is gratifying for us to be making inroads in this new area, and to see how our solution is well-suited for these new challenges.” 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that more than 3 million Americans are living with hepatitis C, and most do not feel ill or know they are infected. For many, infection can eventually lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer or death. More than 12,000 people die every year in the U.S. from illness related to hepatitis C—which kills more Americans than any other infectious disease. While a cure now exists for HCV infection, there is no vaccine to prevent it as there is for Hepatitis A and B.

About Intent Solutions
Intent Solutions is an Atlanta-based technology, software, and data services company whose mission is to use technology to reduce the misuse, abuse and diversion of opioids and other prescription drugs and to improve medication safety and adherence. The company’s tadTM dispenser and software application offer an engaging environment in which prescriptions can be adhered to and daily dosage monitored and managed. Led by an executive team with extensive experience in healthcare technology and civic leadership, Intent Solutions is committed to helping solve the opioid crisis and other population health challenges through innovation and a working partnership with government, healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry.

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