Biologic drugs are available to treat some of humanity’s most devastating medical conditions. Unlike most pharmaceutical drugs that are manufactured by combining chemical ingredients, biologic drugs are manufactured in plant or animal cells and are large, complex molecules or a mixture of molecules.
Not every pharmacy is set up to dispense and support biologic drugs. Specialty pharmacies coordinate the complex delivery and treatment processes necessary for biologic drugs. In addition, these pharmacies are equipped with the expertise to offer patient education, counseling and care coordination for complex treatment plans ranging from Crohn’s disease to rheumatoid arthritis and other serious medical conditions.
Biologic drugs have been available for decades and new ones are becoming available each year. Although they are common, therapies can be complicated because biologics are often injected or given as infusions. Other biologic drugs can be given orally or inhaled.
Conditions treated with biologic medications
Within the past decade, there have been advances treating rheumatoid arthritis in patients who haven’t responded to traditional drugs. Biologic medications have been proven to slow down the progression of the disease. Careful coordination between your physician and the specialty pharmacist will determine which medication is best for you.
Numerous Crohn’s disease patients have turned to biologic medications because other medications can suppress a patient’s entire immune system. The biologics used for Crohn’s disease are antibodies that target particular proteins and cells while blocking the process that causes the inflammation in the bowel. Another advantage for the patient is that these medications do not generate the major side effects traditional medications can cause.
Biologic drugs also provide hope for HIV/AIDS patients. At this time, there are biologic medications being used to treat HIV-related anemia and anemia related to kidney failure.
Patients receiving chemotherapy are finding relief from biologic drugs. And multiple sclerosis patients are turning to biologic drugs to help reduce the severity of symptoms and the frequency of acute flare ups.
Insulin has existed for decades to keep diabetic patients alive. What many diabetic individuals don’t realize is that insulin is actually a biologic medication. Since no two biologic drugs are the same, specialty pharmacies can help the diabetic patient manage their medical condition and select the right insulin for their needs.
Most patients find living with a chronic condition to be difficult and frustrating. Specialty pharmacies have the expertise in handling fragile medications for these conditions, including careful monitoring of patients who receive biological agents require careful monitoring and a risk evaluation for side effects.
The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association pointed out that a national survey of physicians who prescribe specialty medications discovered only 5 percent of all drug stores “have the expertise and capability to provide the different types of specialty medications to patients.”