Americans use their corner drugstore to fulfill all kinds of needs. Today there are more than 26,000 retail pharmacies operating throughout the country, supplying medications, cosmetics, sundries, and even food. But, there are also thousands of specialty pharmacies that focus on providing their customers with the lowest prices on longer-term medications and treatments for chronic diseases. These specialty pharmacies, like Bank’s Apothecary, provide a critical service to our nation’s sickest patients. This resouce will look at the role of the specialty pharmacy and how it’s different from a traditional pharmacy retailer.
What is a Specialty Pharmacy?
Unlike a retail pharmacy, where you go to pick up an over-the-counter or prescription medication for common, ordinary illnesses, a specialty pharmacy concentrates on longer-term chronic illnesses that require extensive disease management and patient care. Why is this necessary.
Data shows that patients and even their doctors are frustrated by the gaps in “education, knowledge, and confidence about how to effectively engage in chronic disease management.” Only 39% of patients say they are somewhat knowledgeable about how to pursue treatment for their chronic care condition. Nearly 60% say they probably aren’t doing enough to manage their condition.
If you are coping with a chronic or rare illness, it can be stressful. One in five patients say they are anxious and frustrated by their diagnosis and trying to maintain proper treatment to better their health. Most patients (70%) report they are not given enough information to manage their illnesses successfully.
Yet the numbers also show that two-thirds of doctors believe their patients are fully informed about their chronic illness and able to adequately manage it. This creates a big disconnect between the reality of what you are experiencing and what your doctor believes is occurring.
A specialty pharmacy fills all these gaps with the right medications and specialized education to bring together doctors and their patients in better, more effective care of even the most challenging illnesses.
How is a Specialty Pharmacy Different from a Retail Pharmacy?
While you may go to your corner drugstore for allergy medications, you wouldn’t order the same commonly used medications from a specialty pharmacy. Most of the medications that come from a retail pharmacy are not difficult for patients to manage and don’t require extensive explaining from your pharmacist.
The typical retail pharmacy is busy with walk-in patients, providing vaccinations such as flu shots or the COVID vaccine, handling questions from the drive-through, verifying insurance, and, of course, filling prescriptions. Retail pharmacy customers do not typically need extensive counseling or anything more than a pamphlet to accompany their simple, common medications.
A specialty pharmacy provides special storage and handling of medications to treat complex long-term illnesses or rare conditions that require close coordination with your doctor. Most of these pharmacies offer mail order prescription medications and some offer a storefront location where you can pick up your medications.
A specialty pharmacy is dedicated to helping patients with more serious or chronic diseases achieve better health outcomes. Your specialty pharmacist can help with extensive education to better understand your illness. They can help patients who may need very expensive specialty medications avoid unnecessary expenses or find resources to help them pay out-of-pocket expenses. These medical professionals focus on helping people experiencing the most challenging illnesses. If you are one of these people, you want a specialty pharmacy to be on your side. These medical professionals involve themselves by working closely with you and your doctor to help you achieve your optimum state of health.
Why Would I Need a Specialty Pharmacy?
If you have a rare or chronic condition that requires medications that your local retail pharmacy doesn’t supply, a specialty pharmacy can help. These medications may need special handling in how they are stored. Or they may need to be infused or injected through an IV and given in a clinical setting instead of in the home. These drugs also typically require special monitoring to carefully adjust the dosage to ensure the best health outcome.
Approximately 25 to 30 million Americans are affected by diseases that doctors consider to be rare. Another 133 million suffer from a chronic illness lasting three months or longer.
A specialty pharmacy can help in all of these cases. Some of the medical conditions that may require a specialty pharmacy include:
- Crohn’s disease
- Growth hormone deficiency
- HIV and AIDS
- Multiple sclerosis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
The medications that treat these illnesses are very complicated and can have serious side effects. This requires hands-on coordination from a medical professional to ensure you are receiving the benefits of the medication without experiencing any problems. Specialty pharmacies have well-trained, experienced staff to help you understand these medications and ensure you receive the exact correct dosage to help you heal or maintain your health.
How Can a Specialty Pharmacy Get Me Back to Health?
Specialty pharmacies provide the kind of one-on-one counsel that you typically will not receive from a busy storefront retail provider. Many specialty pharmacies are on-call to patients 24-7 and have the infrastructure in place to ensure support for even the most difficult clinical cases.
Your specialty pharmacist can help ensure that you’re taking the right medications at the right times, patiently explaining side effects and providing an extra set of eyes to ensure that you won’t have adverse reactions to the treatments your doctor has ordered. Specialty pharmacies excel at treating some of the most challenging medical cases. It’s their mission to help everyone heal and lead their best possible life.
Banks Apothecary is dedicated to providing the highest quality care and caring to our patients. Contact us to find out how we can help you heal.