By Brandon Salke, Pharm.D., Pharmacist-in-Charge, Optime Care.

Intestinal amebiasis is a parasitic infection of the intestines caused by a protozoan E. histolytica that can affect anyone, although it is more common in people who live in or who have traveled to tropical areas with poor sanitary conditions. People become infected by ingesting contaminated food or water, or cysts (eggs) through contact with fecal matter of a person infected with the protozoan.

Amebiasis is present all over the world and E. histolytica continues to be an important global health issue as the third leading cause of death from parasitic infections. Although 90% of E. histolytica infections are asymptomatic, nearly 50 million people become symptomatic, with about 40,000 to 110,000 people dying from amebiasis infection each year.

The recent availability of Humatin™ (paromomycin sulfate)for patients with acute and chronic intestinal amebiasis—and as an adjunctive therapy for management of hepatic encephalopathy—will require optimized drug therapy.

For the benefit of patients and payers, a Humatin-focused, patient-first care program can help to ensure care continuity across the entire patient journey, yield rich data that clinicians can use to make more informed decisions and improve the overall patient experience.

This level of care and specialty drug expertise offers prescribers and patients in-depth understanding of this particular disease. For instance, Humatin capsules should be used only to treat or prevent infections that are proven or strongly suspected to be caused by susceptible bacteria. Knowing this can reduce the development of drug-resistant bacteria and maintain the effectiveness of Humatin and other antibacterial drugs.

As an added value, the typical patient-first care program offers coordinators who work with insurance companies to quickly and efficiently verify coverage and reimbursement benefits, provide access to financial assistance and arrange drug delivery for the patient.

Understanding Intestinal Amebiasis

Travelers to developing countries can acquire amebiasis when visiting the endemic region, but those who are institutionalized or immunocompromised are also at risk. Despite the global public health burden, there are no vaccines or prophylactic medications to prevent amebiasis.

Of those infected, approximately10-20% become sick. Symptoms include loose stool, stomach pain and abdominal cramping, which usually develop within 2-4 weeks and are generally mild. Typically, the illness lasts about two weeks, but it can return if left untreated. Complications of amebiasis may include liver abscess and spread of the parasite through the blood to the liver, lungs, brain or other organs.

When traveling in countries where sanitation is poor, individuals should be advised to drink purified or boiled water, avoid uncooked vegetables or unpeeled fruit and wash their hands after using the bathroom and before eating.

Benefits of a Patient-First Approach

A patient-first care program to treating those with intestinal amebiasis offers dedicated clinical teams who are able to seamlessly eliminate treatment gaps for the patient. They address all variables around collecting data, while maintaining frequent communication with patients and their families to ensure compliance and positive outcomes.

A team of care coordinators, pharmacists, nurses and other specialists can focus on the disease state, patient community and therapy. This is critical for transcending the limitations of the standard specialty pharmacy and hub service provider, which too often rely on technology solutions that fail to address human needs and variability.  

Look for a patient-first care plan that offers a suite of comprehensive services tailored to maximize the therapeutic opportunities for the treatment of intestinal amebiasis. This approach enables patients to become more engaged and take ownership, which leads to a stronger partnership and better patient care.

Customized care coordination with telehealth solutions can also add another layer to a proactive, process-driven program, educating the patient on potential risks. This fosters discussion between the patient and providers that is essential to understanding the patient’s needs, providing focus on the drug’s impact and monitoring overall health. By incorporating assessments and predetermined touch points, the care team is able to stay on top of side effects and capture real world evidence around the therapy, disorder and person’s well-being.

When it comes to treating intestinal amebiasis, the right care team—with expertise in Humatin and intestinal amebiasis—can better meet the needs of everyone involved in the patient’s journey for improved patient experience, better outcomes and cost control.