Patients with chronic or serious diseases such as multiple sclerosis require more attention from their pharmacists. Most local retail pharmacies are in the business of providing medications for hundreds or thousands of patients with all sorts of conditions and requirements, so people with MS have a much better chance of getting the specialized care they need with a specialty pharmacy.
Specialty pharmacies exist to serve patients with chronic and serious illnesses who are dealing with complicated medical issues.
Adherence and management
Specialty pharmacies pay particular attention to medication adherence —ensuring that patients are taking their medicines correctly. A study of 10,000 MS patients conducted in 2007 by the Medco pharmacy benefits company (acquired by Express Scripts in 2012) found a 81.52 percent adherence rate among patients who went to specialty pharmacies, compared to a 71.18 percent rate among those who bought from retail pharmacies.
To achieve such a high adherence rate with MS patients, some specialty pharmacies offer in-person counseling or consultations via online devices or telephone. They may also make sure medicine is properly administered by sending text messages, making phone calls, and sending patients email reminders when it’s time to take or refill medications.
Some specialty pharmacies use technology that uses sound and light indicators to let patients know when it’s time to take their medication. Other specialty pharmacies connect with or create their own apps that store patients’ medical records, provide drug descriptions and warnings, and give instructions on how to take medication.
Through such services, specialty pharmacies can help MS patients avoid risky situations with their medicine and give them the freedom to manage their own care.
Interactions with providers
Since specialty pharmacies treat niche groups of patients, their personnel are trained to address those patients’ specific needs.
If MS patients require financial assistance, specialty pharmacies will take the extra step to make sure they can afford their medication. Pharmacy personnel may talk to drug manufacturers to determine a less expensive treatment method or recommend nonprofit organizations or government agencies that can provide assistance.
While living with MS can be a struggle, patients can receive the assistance, support and guidance they need from their specialty pharmacists.