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Walgreen Co. (WAG - Analyst Report) recently unveiled research results of two retrospective cohort studies that were involved with the study of HIV and comorbid medication adherence at the company’s HIV-specialized pharmacies. The studies also focused on implications for HIV patients suffering from serious mental disorders.

The research data was disclosed at the Cell-Lancet conference, What Will it Take to Achieve an AIDS-Free World? in San Francisco. It was inferred from the results that patients using Walgreens HIV-specialized pharmacies showed high adherence to therapeutic treatments for HIV as well as associated comorbidities, than those using other Walgreens retail pharmacies.

The HIV-specialized pharmacies of Walgreens are highly recognized. More than 2,000 HIV-trained pharmacists provide education, counseling, testing and treatment at more than 700 locations.

Walgreens has been developing patient support programs, with special emphasis on HIV patients, to inculcate greater abidance to medication within the treatment process. Medication adherence is vital, as poor or lack of it often results in treatment failure, resistance to therapy and also increases mortality rate.

The study results demonstrated that patients using the specialized pharmacies of Walgreen are inclined to use anti-retroviral and comorbid therapies as provided by them. The mean proportion of days covered for patients using Walgreens HIV-specialized pharmacies exceeded the same parameter for patients using other Walgreens retail pharmacies.

Moreover, patients taking angiotensin (drug used to treat hypertension), and a regular at Walgreens HIV-specialized pharmacies had a mean proportion of days of 82.6% as compared to 79.6% among those using generic retail pharmacies of the company. Similarly patients taking statins (drug used to treat high cholesterol) had 83.7% mean proportion of days, higher than 81.3% among those using other Walgreens pharmacies.

Additionally, Walgreens researchers also undertook a retrospective data analysis of HIV patients with severe mental ailments. It has been observed that such patients face difficulties in taking medication. This in turn almost doubles up hospitalization and treatment costs.

Nearly 30% of HIV patients tested in the above mentioned study showed increased medication adherence when utilizing a Walgreens HIV-specialized pharmacy. Of them, 32.7% responded well to the anti-retroviral therapy comparing favorably with 19.4% of HIV patients using other Walgreen retail pharmacies.

The studies validate Walgreens commitment toward eradication of the fatal disease AIDS that has reached epidemic levels across the globe.

Such specialized services introduced by the Retail Major are likely to be effective at this time when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 1.4 million people presently infected with HIV, out of which 207,600 remain undiagnosed. The extensive network of the company is also expected to raise the awareness about the disease. Moreover, the high response rate of the treatment and other services provided by the unit is expected to help the company bolster its revenues.  

Such a noble initiative is believed to improve the quality of life as well as increase the survival chances of those acutely infected with the disease, as it is a serious health problem in the U.S. and worldwide.

Currently, the stock carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-performing stocks in the industry include Rite Aid Corp. (RAD - Analyst Report) with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), and GNC Holdings Inc. (GNC - Snapshot Report) and Herbalife Ltd. (HLF - Snapshot Report), each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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