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What is a Specialty Pharmacy?

If you, or a loved one, has been struggling with a rare or serious health condition, the medicines your doctor suggests you take are likely found only at a specialty pharmacy. These medicines are very different from those sold at regular pharmacies. They are often high in price and need approvals from your health insurance company before they can be delivered to you. These medicines are often more difficult to take and require frequent monitoring of your health status.

We tell you below what a specialty pharmacy is, why it is different from a regular pharmacy, the types of support services you can receive, and how Orsini Specialty Pharmacy makes sure you get your medicines as easily, quickly, and inexpensively as possible.

The Definition of a Specialty Pharmacy
Specialty pharmacies provide high-cost, high-touch medicines for patients with complex diseases such as cancer or rheumatoid arthritis or rare conditions passed down from families such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

These medications are often newer therapies taken for chronic conditions lasting many years or a lifetime, and patients need directions on how to use them and keep them stored safely and ready to use. Only a limited number of pharmacies can act as specialty pharmacies.

The Main Differences Between a Specialty Pharmacy and a Regular Pharmacy
Specialty pharmacies are set up to provide medicines to patients with serious medical conditions and are different from regular pharmacies in a number of important ways.

1. Shipping and storing of medicines:
Many specialty medicines need special shipping, such as ‘cold chain distribution’ in which drugs need to be kept very cold during shipping and storage. This means all the ordering and shipping information must be right, so the medicine arrives at the patient’s house or doctor’s office in perfect condition when they need to take it. Orsini handles all the details and provides overnight cold shipping to make sure patients get their medicines quickly and safely and have peace of mind.

2. Managing the process for patients:
Unlike picking up cough medicine or pills for a headache at a regular drugstore, the process of ordering and getting a specialty medicine is complicated and takes a lot of time. Specialty pharmacies offer the services needed to help move the process along quickly so the medicines arrive on time. They connect with and monitor the health status of patients to make sure they’re ready for their next dose for as long as they continue to use the medications. At Orsini, we keep in touch with the patient, the doctor, and the insurance company to make sure medicines are ordered and received by the patient in time for their next dose. This includes working with the doctor to get ‘Prior Authorization’ or approval from the insurance company to give the specialty medicine to the patient, manage the appeals process if needed, and order the medicine again when the supply is gone. So, if there’s a problem with the coverage, Orsini stays on the case until it is resolved.

3. Education, advice, and support:
Drugs sold at regular pharmacies generally have easy-to-follow instructions and are used for only a short time. But specialty medicines often come with complicated instructions and may be needed by the patient for the rest of their life. For that reason, specialty pharmacists are experts who have studied these special diseases and medications for years and can teach patients how to safely use their medicine and store it at home. Specialty pharmacies also give patients a phone number to speak with a pharmacist if they need immediate help when the pharmacy is closed.

At Orsini Specialty Pharmacy, we make sure that patients can call a member of our team who is an expert in their specific condition, and who will answer all of their questions about their medicine. When a patient becomes an Orsini customer, we provide a Welcome Call to take great care from the very start. We ask patients how they can be reached and when we can deliver the medicine. We also tell them how to store the medicine safely at home, how to order more medicine, and how to call our specialty pharmacists after-hours, every day of the week.

4. Help to find assistance programs that may help pay medication costs:
The price of specialty medicines is much higher than medicines at regular pharmacies. This makes it important to understand how much the insurance company will pay and how much the patient will need to pay.

At Orsini, our experienced team begins helping patients get access to the medicines at our pharmacy from the minute they enroll with us. We figure out what their insurance company will pay and what patients will need to pay. Then we work with patients to sign up for aid from the companies that made the medicine, or from non-profit organizations. We keep helping them every step of the way until their forms are approved and the medicine can be delivered.

Orsini is a leading specialty pharmacy that has provided medicines for people with rare and complex conditions since 2009. Our Therapy Care Teams are set up to offer personalized care to patients based on their specific conditions and therapies. We also work with doctors, drug manufacturers, and health insurance companies to help patients get access to their medicines. Learn more about how Orsini helps and supports patients.