Hospital organization to launch new specialty pharmacy program

UHC says program will improve care access

CHICAGO — An organization of nonprofit academic medical centers has created a new specialty pharmacy program that it said would improve continuity of care and improve access to specialty drugs.

UHC said it would unveil the program in late 2013 or early 2014 to provide patients with access to the specialty medications they need at the hospitals where they're treated. Specialty pharmacy is one of the fastest-growing segments of health care, the group said, growing at more than 20% per year, but hospitals that need specialty drugs to perform procedures or treat patients fill less than 20% of prescriptions for them.

"The UHC specialty pharmacy program will help member hospitals and health systems succeed in an accountable care organization environment in which continuity of care must be available," UHC SVP supply chain Jake Groenewold said. "A patient's healthcare team must coordinate care and services among inpatient settings, outpatient settings, infusion clinics and pharmacies."

The program includes a data repository that UHC will use to track patient outcomes using its access to the data and provide clinical evidence for promoting the best therapeutic regimens. UHC also will identify patients who have a failed or unsustainable response to therapy and would be good candidates for a newly approved medication.

The organization cited one example in which a patient's copayment for a specialty drug more than tripled. While the patient waited for assistance from the drug company, the specialty pharmacy withheld the prescription. Her physician worked with the hospital pharmacist to assist the patient and found a cheaper generic, resulting in the patient missing only one day of medication treatment.

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